Skip to main content

Full text of "Giordano Bruno"

See other formats








sill rights reserved 



THIS volume attempts to do justice to a philosopher 
who has hardly received in England the consideration 
he deserves. Apart from the Life of Giordano Bruno, 
by I. Frith (Mrs. Oppenheim), in the English and 
Foreign Philosophical Library, 1887, there has been no 
complete work in our language upon the poet, teacher, 
and martyr of Nola, while his philosophy has been 
treated only in occasional articles and reviews. Yet 
he is recognised by the more liberal-minded among 
Italians as the greatest and most daring thinker their 
country has produced. The pathos of his life and 
death has perhaps caused his image to stand out more 
strongly in the minds of his countrymen than that of 
any other of their leaders of thought. A movement of 
popular enthusiasm, begun in 1876, resulted, on 9th 
June 1889, in the unveiling of a statue in Rome in the 
Campo dei Fiori, the place on which Bruno was burned. 
Both in France and in Germany he has been recognised 
as the prophet, if not as the actual founder, of modern 
philosophy, and as one of the earliest apostles of free 
dom of thought and of speech in modern times. 

The first part of the present work the Life of 



Bruno is based upon the documents published by 
Berti, Dufour, and others, and on the personal refer 
ences in Bruno s own works. I have tried to throw 
some light on Bruno s life in England, on his relations 
with the French Ambassador, Mauvissiere, and on his 
share in some of the literary movements of the time. 
I have, however, been no more successful than others 
in finding any documents referring directly to Bruno s 
visit to England. 

In the second part The Philosophy of Bruno I 
have sought to give not a systematic outline of Bruno s 
philosophy as a whole under the various familiar head 
ings, which would prove an almost impossible task, but 
a sketch, as nearly as possible in Bruno s own words, of 
the problems which interested this mind of the six 
teenth century, and of the solutions offered. The first 
chapter points out the sources from which Bruno derived 
the materials of his thinking. The succeeding chapters 
are devoted to some of the main works of Bruno, the 
Causa (Chapter II.), Infinite and De Immenso (Chapters 
III. and IV.), De Minima (Chapter V.), Spaccio (Chap 
ter VI.), and Heroici Furori (Chapter VII.), and contain 
as little as possible of either criticism or comment, except 
in so far as these are implied in the selection and arrange 
ment of the material. I have adopted this method 
partly because Bruno s works are still comparatively 
unknown to the English reader, and partly because his 
style, full as it is of obscurities, redundances, repetitions, 
lends itself to selection, but not easily to compact ex 
position. Several phases of Bruno s activity I have left 


almost untouched his poetry, his mathematical theories, 
his art of memory. The eighth chapter turns upon his 
philosophy of religion, about which there has been much 
controversy ; while the last attempts to bring him into 
relation and comparison with some of the philosophers 
who succeeded him. I subjoin a list of works and 
articles which are of importance for the study of Bruno. 
Throughout I have referred for Bruno s works to the 
recent Italian edition of the Latin works, issued at the 
public expense, 1879 to 1891 (three volumes in eight 
parts, with introductions, etc.), and to Lagarde s edition 
of the Italian works Gotha, 1888. Of the latter there 
are two volumes, but the paging is continuous from one 
to the other, page 401 beginning the second volume. 


i6tA July 1903. 



BIOGRAPHIES ..... . xv 

WORKS AND ESSAYS ...... xvn 


















MONADS . . . . . . . . .221, 













. 361 


Bartholmcss, Christian, Jordano Bruno, vol. i., Paris, 1846 on 
the life and times of Bruno; vol. 2, 1847 on his works and 

Carriere, Moritz, Die philosophise/* Weltanschauung der Av- 
formationszeit, 1st ed., 1847 ; 2nd ed., 1887. 

Bcrti, Domenico, Giordano Bruno da No/a, sua vita e sua dottrina. 
Appeared first in the Nuova Antologia, 1867. Some new documents 
were published in Document! intorno a Giordano Bruno da Nola, 
1880. A second edition of the Life, including all the documents, 
appeared in 1889. 

Dufour, G. B. a Geneve (1578). Documents inedits : Geneve, 
1884. Also given in Berti s second edition. 

Sigwart, Die Lebensgeschichte G. . s (Verzeichniss der Doctoren, 
etc., Tubingen, 1880), a paper which is expanded and corrected in 
his Kleine Schriften, 1st series (pp. 49-124 and 293-304) : Freiburg 
i. B., 1889. 

Brunnhofer, G. B. s Weltanschauung und Verhangniss : Leipzig, 
1882. A vigorous eulogy of Bruno and his work. 

Frith, Life of Giordano Bruno : London, 1887. 

Riehl, Giordano Bruno, Z,ur Erinnerung an den 17. Februar, 1600 : 
Leipzig, 1st ed., 1889 ; 2nd, 1900. 

Kiihlenbeck ("Landseck ") Bruno, der Martyrer der neuen Welt 
anschauung : Leipzig, 1 890. 

Pognisi, G. B. e f Archivio di San Giovanni Decollate ; Torino, 
etc., 1891. 

Italian biographies and pamphlets are innumerable. Among the 
best are 

Mariano, G. B. La Vita e I uomo: Roma, 1881. 



Lcvi, (i. B. o la Religione del Pensiero : Torino, 1887. 

Morscili, G. ., Commemorazione, etc.: Torino, 1888. Morsclli 
regards Bruno as the precursor of all modern philosophy, and as 
prophet of most of the scientific discoveries of the igth century. 

Tocco, G. B. Conferenza : Kirenze, 1886. On Bruno s religion 
and philosophy of religion. 

Of writers in English on Bruno may also be named : Owen, in 
his Sceptic of the Italian Renaissance : London, 1893 (pp. 244-342) ; 
Daniel Brinton and Thomas Davidson, G. B., Philosopher and 
Martyr, Two Addresses: Philadelphia, 1890; Plumptrc, in his 
Studies in Lit tie -known Subjects: London, 1898 (pp. 61-127) ; Whit- 
taker in E- sa^s and Notices, 1895 (reprinted from Mind, April 1884 
and July 1887) ; the Ouartcr/y Rt-riew for October 1902, " Giordano 
Bruno in England "; and R. Adamson, The Development of Modern 
Philosophy: Edinburgh and London, 1903, vol. 2 (pp. 23-44). 


Of these the most important arc the works of Felice Tocco, to 
whom all students of Bruno owe a debt of gratitude for his admir 
able and scholarly appreciations of Bruno s philosophy. They 
are : Le Opere Latine di G. E. esposte e confrontate con le italiane : 
Firenze, 1889, containing summaries of the Latin works and a 
general discussion of the philosophy of Bruno : Le Opere Inedite 
di G. .: Napoli, 1891, with a similar treatment of some recently 
discovered works of Bruno, which were published in that year as 
the last volume of the State edition : Le Font: piu recenti del/a 
filosojia del Bruno (Acad. dci Lincei, Rendiconti Ser. v. i. pp. 503 ff., 
585 ff.). 

Of earlier writings one of the most valuable, in spite of its 
antipathy to Bruno, is that of F. J. Clemens, G. B. und Nicolaus von 
Cusa. Bonn, 1847. 

A. Debs, Ph. Jordani Bruni Nolani vita et placita. Amiens, 

Mamiani, introduction to Fl. Waddington s translation ot 
Schilling s Bruno (Firenze, 1845, 2nd ed., 1859). 

Fiorentino, / / Panteismo di Bruno. Napoli, 1861. 

Barach, Pbilosopkie des Giordano Bruno, with special reference to 
the theory of knowledge and monadology (Pkil. Monatshefte xiii., 

Spaventa, Saggi di Critica jilosojjca, vol. i. Napoli, 1867. 

1 Clde infra, p. 113, 



Hartung, Grundlinien einer Ethik bci G. B. Leipzig, 1878. 
Wernckkc, G. S. s Polcmik gegen die arhtoteliscke Kosmologie. 
Dresden, 1871. 

Lasswitz, G. B. und die Atomistik (Vierteljahnchrift fur rwj. 

Philos. viii. i. 1884. 

Hoffding s History of Modern Philosophy. Eng. transl., 1900. 




IN 1548, at a stormy period of the history of Italy, Birth an. 
Bruno was born in the township of Kola, lying within 
the kingdom of Naples, which at that time was under 
Spanish rule. His father, Giovanni, was a soldier, 
probably of good family, and in deference, it may be 
supposed, to the King of Spain, the son was named 
Filippo ; the more famous name of Giordano was only 
assumed when he entered a religious order. Through 
his mother, Fraulissa Savolina, a German or Saxon 
origin has been claimed for Bruno ; there were several 
inhabitants of Teutonic name in the village of his birth 


suggesting a settlement of Landknechts^ and the 
name, Fraulissa, has a German ring ; 1 but Bruno him 
self nowhere in the addresses or works published in 
Germany makes any hint of his own connection with 
the race, while the name was probably a generic term 
for the wife of a soldier, borrowed from the Swiss or 
German men-at-arms. 2 

Their home was on the lower slopes of Mount 
Cicala, which rises above Nola, and amid its laughing 
gardens Bruno first imbibed a love of nature, which 
marked him out from so many of his contemporaries, 
The soil of Nola is among the most fertile of all Italy. Noia. 
and the pleasant plain in which it lies is ringed with 

1 Brunnhofer, p. ?zi, Appendix. 2 Sigwrirt, i. p. 118 (note 5). 


hills which lie shadowy under the clear sky ; most 
prominent and most mysterious is Vesuvius, a few miles 
to the south. But the charms of natural beauty in 
Nola were surpassed by those of picturesque antiquity : 
the half-mythical Pelasgians founded it before the walls 
of Rome were begun ; they were followed by the 
Chalcidians of Cuma, from whom the Nolans inherited 
a Greek spirit, calm yet quick, eager in the pursuit of 
wisdom and in the love of beauty, which down even 
to the 1 6th century distinguished them above other 
Italians. There followed a chequered history in which 
the Samnites, the early Romans, Hannibal, Sulla, and 
Spartacus, played successive parts. Nola was the death- 
place of Augustus, and to that fact owed its greatness 
in Imperial times, when its two great amphitheatres 
and multitude of beautiful temples topped a great city, 
shut in by massive walls, with twelve gates that opened 
to all parts of Italy. Evil times were to come ; 
Alaric, the Saracens, Manfred, and others had their will 
of Nola, and earthquakes, flood, and plague reduced it 
by the end of the I5th century to one tenth of its 
former self. It had its own martyrs, for the old faith 
and for the new ; one of the latter, Pomponio Algerio, 
suffered during Bruno s lifetime a fate that fore 
shadowed his own ; accused while a student at Padua of 
contempt for the Christian religion, he was imprisoned 
in Padua, Venice, and Rome, and finally burnt at the 
stake. Its sons never lost their love for the 
mother-town ; Bruno speaks of it always with affec 
tion, as to him " the garden of Italy " ; of a 
nephew of Ambrogio Leone, the historian of its 
antiquities, we are told that, on returning to Nola 
after a few days absence, seeming ill with longing, 
he threw himself on the earth and kissed it with 

of Bruno. 


unspeakable joy. 1 Perhaps the suggestion of Bar- 
tholmess is not groundless, that the volcanic soil 
and air of Nola influenced the character of the 
people as of the wine. "Hence the delicacy of 
their senses, vivacity of gesture, mobility of humour, 
and passionate ardour of spirit. 2 

Of the childhood of Bruno little is to be learned, childhood 

.. . -11 c 

Cicala, his home, he describes as a "little village of 

four or five cottages not too magnificent." In all 

probability his upbringing was simple, his surroundings 

homely. We need not go further, and suppose that 

his surroundings were not only homely, but degraded 

and vicious. 4 His father, although a soldier by pro 

fession, seems to have been a man of some culture ; at 

least he was a friend of the poet Tansillo, who excited 

the admiration of the young Bruno, and first turned 

his mind towards the Muses. Tansillo s poetry, follow 

ing the taste of the age, was not too refined, but its 

passion called forth a ready reflection in the ardent 

nature of the lad. It was perhaps the only door to 

the higher artistic life of the time which was open to 

Bruno ; the neighbours, if we may judge from satiric 

references in the Italian Dialogues, were of a rough 

homely type. Bruno tells, for example, 5 how Scipio 

Savolino (perhaps his uncle) used to confess all his sins 

to Don Paulino, Cure of S. Primma that is in a village 

near Nola (Cicala), on a Holy Friday, of which 

" though they were many and great," his boon com 

panion the Cure absolved him without difficulty. Once 

was enough, however, for in the following years, with 

out many words or circumstances, Scipio would say to 

Don Paulino, "Father mine, the sins of a year ago 

1 Berti, Vita di 5. B., p. 28. 2 Bartholmess, vol. i. p. 26. 

3 Lagarde, 452. 23. 4 V. additional note. 5 Lagarde, Of. Ital., p. 101. 


to-day, you know them " ; and Don Paulino would 
reply, " Son, thou knowest the absolution of a year ago 
to-day go in peace and sin no more ! " 

One incident of Bruno s childhood, which has been 
thought a promise of extraordinary powers, he himself 
relates in the Sigillus Sigillorum. Describing the 
different causes of concentration," 1 (Conlractio), he 
instances fear among them : " I myself, when still in 
swaddling clothes, was once left alone, and saw a great 
and aged serpent, which had come out of a hole in the 
wall of the house ; 1 called my father, who was in the 
next room ; he ran with others of the household, 
sought for a stick, growled at the presence of the 
serpent, uttering words of vehement anger, while the 
others expressed their fear for me, and I understood 
their words no less clearly, I believe, than I should 
understand them now. After several years, waking up 
as if from a dream, I recalled all this to their memory, 
nothing being further from the minds of my parents ; 
they were greatly astonished/ As well they might 
be! It is hardly right, however, to see in the story 
evidence of marvellous faculty showing itself in infancy, 
beyond that of an impressionable and tenacious mind. 
No doubt the drama had been repeated many times by 
the parents for behoof of visitors. 3 

Superstitious beliefs abounded among Bruno s fellow- 
countrymen ; many of them clung to him through life, 
were moulded by him into a place in his philosophy, 
and bore fruit in his later teaching and practice of 
natural magic. Thus we are told how the spirits of the 
earth and of the waters may at times, when the air is 

1 i.e. Heightening of normal powers. - Of. Lai. ii. 2. 184. 

:! On Bruno s family -v. Fiorentino, in the Giornale de la Dcmenica (Naples), 
for Jan. 29, 1882. 


pure a id calm, become visible to the eye. He himself 
had se:n them on Beech Hill, and on Laurel Hill, and 
they frequently appeared to the inhabitants of these 
places, sometimes playing tricks upon them, stealing 
and hiding their cattle, but afterwards returning the 
property to their stalls. Other spirits were seen about 
Nola by the temple of Portus in a solitary place, and ever, 
under a certain rock at the roots of Mount Cicala, 
formerly a cemetery for the plague-stricken ; he and 
many others had suffered the experience when passing 
at night of being struck with a multitude of stones, 

o o 

which rebounded from the head and other parts of the 
body with great force, in quick succession, but did no 
injury either to him or to any of the others. 1 It was 
at Nola that Bruno saw what seemed a ball or beam of 
fire, but was " really " one of the living beings that 
inhabit the ethereal space ; " as it came moving swiftly 
in a straight line, it almost touched the roofs of the 
houses and would have struck the face of Mount Cicala, 
but it sprang up into the air and passed over." To 
understand the mind of Bruno, it is necessary to 
remember the atmosphere of superstition in which he 
lived as a child. 

One lesson from nature was early implanted which 
gave body and form to Bruno s later views : he had 
seen from Cicala, the fair mount, how Vesuvius looked 
dark, rugged, bare, barren, and repellent ; but when 
later he stood on the slopes of Vesuvius itself, he dis 
covered that it was a perfect garden, rich in all the 
fairest forms and colours, and luxurious bounty of 
fruits, while now it was his own beloved hill, Cicala, 
that gloomed dim and formless in the distance. He 
learnt once for all that the divine majesty of nature is 

1 De Magia, Of. Lat. ill. Op. 430, 431. a De Immense, -v. Of. Lat. i. 2. p. 120. 

^nity of 


everywhere the same, that distance alters the lo ok but 
never the nature or substance of things, that the- earth 
is everywhere full of life, and beyond the earfh the 
whole universe, he inferred, must be the same. 1 



Naples. When about eleven years of age, Bruno passed from 

Nola to Naples in order to receive the higher education 
of the day Humanity, Logic, and Dialectic, attend 
ing both public and private courses ; and in his fifteenth 

i^6 3 . year (1562 or 1563) he took the habit of St. Dominic, 
and entered the monastery of that order in Naples. Of 
his earlier teachers he mentions only two, " il Sarnese," 
who is probably Vincenzo Colle da Sarno, a writer of 
repute, and Fra Theophilo da Vairano, a favourite 
exponent of Aristotle, who was afterwards called to 
lecture in Rome. Much ingenuity has been exercised 
in attempting to find a reason for Bruno s choice of a 
religious life ; but the Church was almost the only 
career open to a clever and studious boy, whose parents 

The DO- were neither rich nor powerful. The Dominican Order 
into which he was taken, although the narrowest, and 
the most bigoted, 2 was all-powerful in the kingdom, 
and directed the machinery of the Inquisition. Naples 
was governed by Spain with a firm hand, and the 
Dominican was the chosen order of Spain. Just at this 
time there were riots against the Inquisition, to which 
an end was put by the beheading and burning of two 
of the ringleaders. 3 The Waldensian persecution was 
then fiercer and more brutal than it had ever been ; on 
a day of 1561 eighty-eight victims were butchered with 

1 De, iii. (i. I. 313). 

2 Ct. the punning line "Domini canes evangelium latrantur fer totum crbem." 
3 Berti, p. 50. 


the same knife, their bodies quartered, and distributed 
along the road to Calabria. 1 Plague, famine, earth 
quake, the Turks, and the Brigands, under " King " 
Marconi, swelled the wave of disaster that had come 
upon the kingdom of Naples. Little wonder then that 
one whose aim was a life of learning should seek it 
under the mantle of the strong Dominican order. 

The cloister stood above Naples, amidst beautiful The 
gardens, and had been the home of St. Thomas 
Aquinas, whose gentle spirit still breathed within its 
walls. In its church, amid the masterpieces of Giovanni 
Merliano of Nola, " the Buonarotti of Naples," stood 
the image of Christ which had spoken with the Angelic 
Doctor, and had approved his works. Long afterwards, 
at his trial, Bruno spoke of having the works of St. 
Thomas always by him, " continually reading, studying 
and re-studying them, and holding them dear." On his 
entry into the order, Bruno laid down, as was customary, 
the name Filippo, and took that of Giordano, by which, 
except for a short period, he was thenceforth known. 
After his year s probation he took the vows before 
Ambrosio Pasqua, the Prior, and in due course, pro 
bably about 1572, became priest, his first mass being 15-2. 
said in Campagna. 2 

It was the age of the counter-reformation which had Processes 

/,, L 

been inaugurated by Loyola, its course set by the 
decision of the Council of Trent " to erase with fire 
and sword the least traces of heresy," and Bruno early 
began to feel his fetters, and to suffer from their weight. 
During his noviciate even, a writing had been drawn up 
against him, because he had given away some images of 
the saints, retaining for himself only a crucifix, and 
again because he had advised a fellow-novice, who was 

1 Cf. Spaccio de la Bestia, Lag. p. 552, i. - Venetian Documents, No. 8. 


reading The Seven Delights of the Madonna to throw 
it aside and take rather The Lives of the Fathers or 
some such book. But the writing was merely intended 
to terrify him, and the same day was torn up by the 
1576. Prior. 1 In 1576, however, the suspicions of his 
superiors took a more active turn, and a process was 
instituted in which the matter of the noviciate was 
supported by charges of later date, of which Bruno 
never learned the details. He believed the chief count 
was an apology for the Arian heresy made by him in 
the course of a private conversation, and rather on the 
ground of its scholastically correct form than on that of 
its truth. 2 In any case Bruno left Naples while the 
process was pending, and came to Rome, where he put 
up in the cloister of Minerva. His accusers did not 
leave him in peace, however : a third process was 
threatened at Rome with 130 articles; 3 and, on learn 
ing from a friendly source that some works of St. 
Chrysostom and St. Hieronymus, with a commentary 
of the arch-heretic Erasmus, had been discovered he 
had, as he supposed, safely disposed of them before 
leaving Naples, Bruno yielded to discretion, abandoned 
his monkly habit, and escaped from Rome. From this 
time began a life of restless wandering throughout 
Europe which ended only after sixteen years, when he 
fell into the power of the Inquisition at Venice. 


Bruno, who resumed for the time his baptismal 

name of Filippo, journeyed first to the picturesque little 

oii. town of Noli, in the Gulf of Genoa, whither a more 

famous exile, Dante, had also come. There he lived for 

1 Docs. 8 and 13. 2 /^..v additional note. * Doc. i (Berti, p. 378). 


four or five months, teaching grammar to boys, and M7 6? 
"the Sphere" - that is, astronomy and cosmography, 
with a dash of metaphysics, to certain gentlemen. 
Thence he came to Savona, to Turin, 1 and to Venice. Savona - 
In Venice six weeks were spent, probably in the Venice. 
vain attempt to find work the printing offices and 
the schools were closed on account of the plague 
which was carrying off thousands of the inhabitants ; 
but the time was utilised in printing the first of 
his books no longer extant on the Signs of the 
Times,- written, like so many other works of other 
people, to put together a few f danari." It was shown 
to a reverend Father Remigio of Florence, therefore 
was probably orthodox, or its unorthodoxy was veiled. 
This work may have been the first of Bruno s writings 
on the art of memory or on Lully s art of knowing. | 
Another work belonging to this early period was the 
Ark of Noah. It was probably written before he left 
Naples, and was dedicated to Pope Pius V., but is not 
known to have been published : its title is that of a 
mystical writing of Hugo of St. Victor, but according 
to the account in the Cena? it was an allegorical and 
probably satirical work, somewhat after the fashion of 
Bruno s Cabala : The animals had assembled to settle a 
disputed question of rank, and the ass was in great danger 
of losing his pre-eminent post, in the poop of the Ark, 
-because his power lay in hoofs rather than in horns ; 
when we consider Bruno s frequent and bitter invoca 
tions of Asinity, we can hardly avoid seeing in the 
work an allusion to the credulity and ignorance of the 

1 Tasso came about the same time, to be repulsed as plague-stricken from the 

Doc. 9. Berti, p. 393 (a line is omitted in the 2nd Edition). 
3 Lag. 147. 21. 


Padua . " From Venice," l Bruno tells us, " I went to Padua, 

where I found some fathers of the order of St. Dominic, 
whom I knew ; they persuaded me to resume the habit, 
even though I should not wish to return to the order, 
as it was more convenient for travel : with this idea I 
went to Bergamo, and had a robe made of cheap white 
cloth, placing over it the scapular which I kept when 
I left Rome." On his way to Bergamo he seems to 

Brescia. have touched at Brescia and Milan, at the former 
place curing, " with vinegar and polypod," a monk 
who claimed to have the spirit of prophecy. 2 At 

Milan. Milan he first heard of his future patron and friend, 

Bergamo. Sir Philip Sidney. 8 From Bergamo he was making 

Chambery. for Lyons, but at Chambery was warned that he would 
meet with little sympathy there, and turned accordingly 

Geneva. towards Geneva, the home of exiled reformers of all 
nationalities, but especially of Italians. It is uncertain 
how the time was distributed among these places, 
possibly Bruno spent a winter, as Berti suggests, 
at Chambery, having crossed the Alps the previous 
autumn ; what is certain is, that he arrived at Geneva 

May 1579. in April or May of 1579. Under the date May 22, 
of that year, in the book of the Rector of the Academy 
at Geneva, is inscribed the name Philippus Brunus, 
in his own hand. On his arrival at the hostelry in 
Geneva, he was called upon by a distinguished exile 
and reformer, the Marquis of Vico, a Neapolitan. 
To the court at Venice, Brtfno gave the following 
account of this visit and of his life in Geneva : " He 
asked me who I was, and whether I had come to stay 
there and to profess the religion of the city, to which, 

1 Fra Paolo Sarpi was at this time teaching philosophy in one of the monasteries 
in Venice, but Bruno does not seem to have met him. 
- Sig. Sig. (Of. Lat. ii. 2. 191). 
:! Cea, Lag. 143. 40. 


after I had given an account of myself and of my 
reasons for abandoning the Order, I said that 1 had 
no intention of professing the religion of the city, 
not knowing what it was, and that therefore I wished 
rather to remain living in freedom and security, than 
in any other manner. I was persuaded, in any case, 
to lay aside the habit I wore ; so I had made for 
myself from the cloth a pair of trews and other 
things, while the Marquis himself, with other Italians, 
gave me a sword, hat, cape, and other necessaries of 
clothing, and enabled me to support myself so far by 
correcting proofs. I stayed about two months, and 
attended at times the preachings and discussions, both 
of Italians and Frenchmen who lectured and preached 
in the city ; among others, I heard several times 
Nicolo Balbani of Lucca, who read on the epistles 
of St. Paul, and preached the Gospels ; but having 
been told that I could not remain there long if I 
did not make up my mind to adopt the religion of Did Bruno 
the city, for if not I should receive no assistance, I tinUmf 3 
resolved to leave." : When the inscription of Bruno s 
name in the book of the Rector of the Academy was 
found, a doubt appeared to be thrown upon the truth 
or frankness of this evidence about himself. The 
regulations of 1559 had made it necessary for intend 
ing members to accept and sign the Calvinist confession 
of faith ; but from 1576 onward, it was only required 
that they should belong to the community, a condition 
Bruno fulfilled by attending the ministrations of Nicolo 
Balbani at the Italian Church ; this would account 
also for his name being in the list of the Protestant 
refugees. The real cause of his departure from 
Geneva has, however, been revealed by the documents 

1 Doc. 9. 


which Dufour published in I884- 1 On Thursday 

August 6, 1579, "one Philippe Jordan called 

Freedom of Brunus, an Italian," was brought before the Council, 

speech. r i j 1 J 

ror having " caused to be printed certain replies 
De in Fay-, and invectives against M. de la Faye, enumerat 
ing twenty errors made by the latter in one of his 
lectures." De la Faye was then Professor of Philosophy 
in the Academy, of which in 1580 he became Rector, 
resigning that post for the theological chair a few 
years later. His one title to fame is, that he was the 
biographer of Beza, and he was in no sense a strong 
man ; all the more bitter and intense was his anger 
at the intruding Italian who criticised his views, and 
a far graver crime disparaged his learning. Bruno, 
heard before a body of councillors, and having confessed 
his fault, was to be set free on giving thanks to God 
and an apology to M. de la Faye, admitting his fault 
before the Consistory (the governing body of the 
Church in Geneva), and tearing up the defamatory 
libel. 1 But when he did appear, on August 13, 
the philosopher adopted a different tone : " Philippe 
Brun appeared before the Consistory to admit 
his fault, in so far as he had erred in doctrine, 
and called the ministers of the Church of Geneva 
pedagogues^ asserting that he neither would excuse 
nor condemn himself in that, for it had not been 
reported truly, although he understood that one, 
Anthony de la Faye, had made such a report. 
Inquired whom he had called pedagogues, he replied 
with many excuses and assertions that he had been 
persecuted, making many conjectures and numerous 
other accusations." Finally, " it was decided that 

1 Giordano Bruno a Geneve (1579), par Theophil Dufour: -v. Berti, pp. 449 fT. 
2 From the Register of the Council. 


he be duly admonished, that he have to admit his 
fault, and that, should he refuse to do so, he be 
forbidden communion, and sent back again to the 
Council, who are prayed not to endure such a person, 
a disturber of the school ; and in the meantime he 
shall have to admit his fault. He replied that he 
repented of having committed the fault, for which 
he would make amends by a better conversation, 
and further confessed that he had uttered calumny 
against De la Faye. The admonitions and exclusions 
from the communion were carried out, and he was 
sent back with admonitions." Apparently these steps 
were effective ; the required apology was made, and 
on August 27 Bruno was absolved from the form 
of excommunication passed upon him. No doubt, 
however, life in Geneva was made less easy for him, 
and he left soon after. The sentence of excommunica 
tion passed by the Consistory the only one within 
its power -does not prove that Bruno was a full 
member of the Protestant community, nor that he 
partook of the communion, which at his trial in 
Venice he absolutely denied ever having done ; but 
formal excommunication must have entailed many un 
pleasantnesses, so that his appeal for remission is 
quite comprehensible. His unfortunate experiences in 
Geneva account, however, for the extreme dislike of 
Calvinism which his writings express. Of the two 
reformed schools, Lutheranism was by far the more 
tolerant, and gave him, later, the more cordial welcome. 
Calvin, we must remember, whose spirit continued 
in Theodore Beza, had written a pamphlet on Servetus, 
a " faithful exposition of the errors of Michael Servetus, 
a short refutation of the same, in which it is shown to 

1 Register of Consistory, 1577-1579. 


be lawful to coerce heretics by the sword." It was 
more probably, however, Bruno s attitude towards the 
Aristotelian philosophy which brought him into conflict 
with the authorities : Geneva was as thoroughly con 
vinced of the all-wisdom of Aristotle as Rome. 1 Beza 
had written to Ramus that they had decided once 
for all, ne tant ilium ab Aristotelis sententia deflectere, 
and Arminius, when a youth of twenty-two, was 
expelled from Geneva for teaching the Dialectic of 


Lyons. After a short stay in Lyons, where " he could not 

make enough to keep him alive," Bruno passed to 

Toulouse. Toulouse, which boasted then of one of the most 
flourishing universities in the world. In his account 
of his life before Venetian tribunal, he gives two years 
and a half to Toulouse, but he must have left it before 
the end of 1581, so that his actual stay was only two 
years. While he was holding private classes on the 
Sphere, and other philosophical subjects, a chair at the 
University fell vacant. Bruno was persuaded to 
become a candidate ; to that end he took a Doctorate 
(in Theology), and was allowed to compete. By the 
free election of the students, as the custom was, he was 
chosen for the chair, and thereafter for two sessions 
lectured on Aristotle s De Amma and on other matters. 
Part of these lectures is perhaps given to us in the 
works published afterwards at Paris. It was fortunate 
that the University did not require of its ordinary 
professors that they should attend mass, as was the case, 
for example, at the Sorbonne. Bruno could not have 

1 Bartholmess, i. pp. 62, 63 (with note). 

i TOULOUSE (1579-81) 17 

done so owing to his excommunication, but that he 
was unconscious of any want of sympathy towards the 
Catholic Church is shown by his visit in Toulouse to 
the confessional of a Jesuit. 

The city was not generally favourable to heretics, and 
in 1616 Lucilio Vanini was burnt there for his opinions. 
A cancelled phrase in the evidence suggests that Bruno s 

1 OO 

departure from Toulouse was owing to disputes and 
difficulties regarding his doctrine, but his alleged reason 
was the civil war that was then raging in the south of 
France, with Henry of Navarre in the field. While at 
Toulouse, Bruno seems to have completed a work in 
more than one volume, the Claris Magna, or " Great 
Key," a general, and as Bruno thought, a final text 
book on the art of memory : " All the ideas of 
the older writers on this subject (so far as we are able 
to make out from the books that have come to our 
hands), their doctrines and methods, have their fitting 
place in our invention, which is a superlatively pregnant 
one, and has appropriated to it the book of the Great 
Key." One volume only, it appears, was published by 
Bruno, and that in England, the Sigillus Sigillorum. 

To Paris Bruno came about the close of 1581, and 
almost at once sprang into fame. A course of thirty 
lectures on " The thirty divine attributes " (as given by 
Thomas Aquinas) brought him the offer of an ordinary 
professorship, but this he could not take, being unable 
to attend mass. However, his fame reached the ears 
of the king, Henry the Third, who summoned him to 
his presence, to know among other things " whether the 
memory Bruno had, and the art of memory he professed, 
were natural or due to magic." Bruno proved to him 
that a powerful memory was a natural product, and 

1 Vide De Umtris (Of. Lat. ii. r. p. 65, cf. p. 87). 


dedicated to him a book on the Art of Memory. 

Henry III. was the son of an Italian mother, and had 

a keen, if uncritical and dilettante, love of learning. 

At the time Bruno arrived in Paris philosophy was one 

of the king s chief hobbies, and the fact had a great 

Works pub- influence on Bruno s future. During his stay in Pans 

Paris. Bruno published several works, of which the first 

Di Umbris. perhaps was the " Shadows of Ideas " (De Umbris 

Idearum\ 1582, dedicated to Henry III., along with 

which, but without a separate frontispiece, was the 

An ^ rt O f M em orv (Ars Memorise Jordani Brunt] ; there 

Memcritf. J - ^ . ,, 

Cantus followed "The Incantation of Circe" (Cantus Circ<fus\ 
1582, dedicated to Prince Henry of Angouleme, and 
edited by Regnault. The De Umbris gives the 
metaphysical basis of the art of memory, the Ars 
Memorise a psychological analysis of the faculty, and 
an account of the theory of the art itself, while the 
Cantus Circuits offers first a practical application, and 
secondly a more elementary account of the theory and 
practice of the system. Obscurity was, in those days 
of pedantry, one of the safest ways of securing a 
hearing : there is nothing of value in Bruno s art except 
the philosophy by which he sought to support it a 
renovated Neoplatonism. It has been pointed out, 
however, u that the art was a convenient means of 
introducing Bruno to strange universities, gaining him 
favour with the great, or helping him out of pressing 
money troubles. It was his exoteric philosophy with 
which he could carefully drape his philosophy of religion 
hostile to the Church, and ride as a hobby horse in his 
unfruitful humours." 1 There can be no question of 
Bruno s own belief in it ; it was not, for example, a 
cipher language by which he covered his real thoughts : 

1 Brunnhofer s Giordano Brunt, etc., p. 25. 


the Copernican theory is not, as Berti says, absent from 
the Parisian writings, rather it is forced obtrusively into 
them. 1 

In Paris was published also the " Compendious 
Architecture " (De Compendiosd Architecture!, et Com- 
plemento Artis Lullii\ 1582, dedicated to Giovanni 
Moro, the Venetian Ambassador in Paris. It is the 
earliest of the Lullian works in which Bruno expounds 
or comments upon the art of Raymond Lully, a logical 
calculus and mnemonic scheme in one, that attracted 
many imitators up to and after Bruno s time. In the 
same year appeared a work of a very different stamp, // 
Candela iQ) or a The Torchbearer," " a comedy by Bruno 
of Nola, Academico di nulla academia, detto il fastidito : 
In tristitia hi/aris, hllaritate tristis" It is a satire 
upon some of the chief vices of the age in the fore 
front pedantry, superstition, and sordid love. Without 
great dramatic power the characters are personified 
types, not individuals it has been judged to be second 
to none of the comedies of the time, in spirit, wit, and 
pert comedy. It certainly excels in many respects the 
Cortegiana of Aretino, to which it is similar in character. 
It is equally realistic in the sense that it " calls a spade 
a spade," and does not shrink from representing vice 
as speaking in its own language. Bruno is not, how 
ever, to be blamed for an obscenity which was de 
rigueur in the literature of the time. But although 
the humour is broad and occasionally amusing, there is 
no grace, no lighter touch ; the picture is all dark. 
The attack upon the pedant, however, strikes a key 
note of Bruno s life ; in him he saw the greatest enemy 
his teaching had to face, and therefore he struck at him 
whenever the opportunity offered. 

1 Introd. to De Umbris. 

De Com- 
tura. ttc. 



The uni- Owing perhaps to some of these works, Bruno was 
granted an Extraordinary Readership at the university. 
There were, however, two universities in Paris, and it 
is uncertain at which Bruno taught : they were the 
Sorbonne, catholic and conservative, the censorship of 
which must have passed his Parisian works, and the 
College of France following the liberal policy of its 
founder, Francis II., declaring war against pedantry in 
general, and the Jesuit Society in particular. 1 As has 
been said, Bruno was at this time eager to be taken 
back into the fold of the Church, and turned to the 
Jesuits for assistance, so that the latter college could 
hardly have been his habitation ; on the other hand, 
his revolutionary teaching could not fail in the end to 
excite the indignation of the Sorbonne pupils : Aristotle 
was, here as elsewhere, " divine." Yet when Bruno 
returned to Paris in 1585, and when he was on the 
eve of a second departure, he recalled with pleasure 
the humanity and kindness shown to him by rectors 
and professors on his first visit. They had honoured 
him by " the continued presence of the more learned 
at his lectures both public and private, so that any 
title rather than that of stranger was befitting him 
with this kindly parent of letters." And Nostitz, 
one of Bruno s pupils, remembered with admiration, 
thirty-three years later, the skill and versatility of his 
teacher : " He was able to discourse impromptu on 
any subject suggested, to speak without preparation 
extensively and -eloquently, and he attracted many 
pupils and admirers in Paris." 

1 Bartholmess, i. 74. 

2 Vide Aero:. C^n-.ocr. Epistle to the Rector of the University (Filesac.). Op. La! . I 
i. i. 56, 57. 

3 Artificium Arts!. Lull. Rum. 1615. 


But Bruno s evil genius would not allow him rest ; 
whether on account, as he himself says, of " tumults," 
which may mean either the civil war l or an active 
resistance to his own teaching on the part of the youth 
of Paris, or because of the attraction of a less bigoted 
country, he was drawn in 1583 to exchange Paris 
for London. 


England under Elizabeth was renowned for its England, 
tolerance ; all manner of religious refugees found there a 
place of safety : to Italians its welcome was particularly 
cordial, their language was the favoured one of the 
court, and Elizabeth herself eagerly saw and spoke 
with them in their own tongue. Florio an Italian in 
spite of having had London for his birthplace, the 
friend of Shakespeare, of Spenser and Ben Jonson 
was constantly at court ; two of Elizabeth s physicians 
were Italian, as were several of the teachers of the 
universities. Perhaps the happiest days of Bruno s 
troubled life were spent here ; he had access to the 
most brilliant literary society of the time ; he was able 
to speak, write, and publish in his own tongue, and in 
consequence gave all the most polished and brilliant 
of his works to the world during this period. 

In April, May, and June of 1583 Bruno was in Oxford, 
Oxford, although the university and college records 
make no mention of his name. He must have known 
it as a stronghold of Aristotelianism ; on its statutes The Uni- 

. _ _ . .., r 11 versity an< 

stood " that Bachelors and Masters who did not follow Aristotle. 
Aristotle faithfully were liable to a fine of five shillings 
for every point of divergence, and for every fault 

Cf. Oral. Cental, (i. I. 32). 


committed against the Logic of the Organon " ; and that 
this was no dead law had been proved a few years 
before when one Barebones was degraded and expelled 
because of an attack on Aristotle from the standpoint 
of Ramus. The only living subject of teaching was 
theology, there was no real science, and no real scholar 
ship. This peaceful school was not likely to be 
gratified by the letter which Bruno wrote asking per 
mission to lecture at Oxford ; it is printed in the 
Explicatio Triginta Sigillorum: 1 "To the most excellent 
the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, its 
most famous Doctors and celebrated Masters Saluta 
tion from Philotheus Jordanus Brunus of Nola, Doctor 
of a more scientific theology, professor of a purer and 
less harmful learning, known in the chief universities 
of Europe, a philosopher approved and honourably 
received, a stranger with none but the uncivilised and 
ignoble, a wakener of sleeping minds, tamer of presump 
tuous and obstinate ignorance, who in all respects 
professes a general love of man, and cares not for 
the Italian more than for the Briton, male more than 
female, the mitre more than the crown, the toga more 
than the coat of mail, the cowled more than the un- 
cowled ; but loves him who in intercourse is the more 
peaceable, polite, friendly and useful (Brunus) whom 
only propagators of folly and hypocrites detest, whom 
the honourable and studious love, whom noble minds 
applaud." The epistle which so begins is the preface 
to a work on the art of discovering, arranging, and 
remembering facts of knowledge, by which Bruno 
hoped to commend himself to the English, as he 
had succeeded in commending himself to the French 
universities. He attempted to disarm prejudice by 

1 Of. Lat. ii. 2. pp. 76-8. 


sheltering under the twofold truth " if this writing 
appears to conflict with the common and approved 
faith, understand that it is put forward by me not as 
absolutely true, but as more consonant with our senses 
and our reason, or at least less dissonant than the other 
side of the antithesis. And remember, that we are not 
so much eager to show our own knowledge, as moved 
by the desire of showing the weakness of the common 
philosophy, which thrusts forward what is mere opinion 
as if demonstratively proved, and of making it clear by 
our discussion (if the gods grant it) how much in 
harmony with regulated sense, in consonance with the 
truth of the substance of things, is that which the 
garrulous multitude of plebeian philosophers ridicule as 
foreign to sense." 

He was coldly received, however ; in common- 
sense England his new art could evoke no enthusiasm, 
and his real and vital doctrines met with nothing but 
opposition at the old university " the widow of true 
science," Bruno calls it. From the loth to the I3th Aiasco of 
June the Polish prince, Aiasco, was in Oxford, and 
disputations were held in his honour as well as banquets 
Among others, Bruno disputed publicly in presence of 
the prince and some of the English nobility. 1 Aiasco 
appears to have caused some excitement to the 
Elizabethan court. According to Mr. Faunt (of the 
secretary s office) he had been General in more than 
forty fought battles, spoke Latin and Italian well, and 
was of great revenues. Mauvissiere grumbled in a 
letter to the French king, that the Palatine Lasque and 
a Scottish ambassador seemed to be governing the 
court. 2 The real object of the visit was apparently 
political, to prevent the traffic in arms between England 

1 Ccna, L. 176, 37 ff. s Teulet Papers, ii. p. 570 (May 16, 1583). 


and Muscovy. 1 Whether Alasco succeeded in this 
design or not, he seems to have found life in England 
too fast for his purse " A learned man of graceful 
figure, with a very long beard, in decorous and 
beautiful attire, who was received kindly by the Queen, 
with great honour and praise by the nobles, by the 
university of Oxford with erudite delectations (pblecta- 
tionibus} and varied spectacles ; but after four months, 
being harassed for debt, he withdrew secretly." The 
arrival of this tragic-comic figure in Oxford appears to 
have gratified the city and university ; he was most 
hospitably received, and put up at Christ Church. On 
the following day there was a dinner at All Souls, 
at which " he was solemnlie satisfied with scholarlie 
exercises and courtlie fare." That evening was per 
formed a " pleasant comedie," the Rivales, and on the 
following night a " statelie tragedie," Dido? and there 
were in the intervals shows, disputations in philosophy, 
physics, and divinity, in all of which, we are glad 
to know, " these learned opponents, respondents, 
and moderators, acquitted themselves like themselves, 
sharplie and soundlie." Let us hope that Bruno too, 
The aispu. who took part in one of these disputations, made this 

A j- i i 

impression. According to his own account the pro 
tagonist put forward by the university could not reply 
to one of his arguments, and was left fifteen times by 
as many syllogisms, " like a hen in the stubble," 
resorting accordingly to incivility and abuse, in face of 
the patience and humanity of the Neapolitan " reared 
under a kinder sky." The result was unfortunate for 
Bruno ; it put an end to the public lectures, which he 

1 Of>. cit., p. 693. 2 Camden s Elizabeth. 

A The MS. of Dido, which was acted by Christ Church men, is still preserved in 
the library of Christ Church. 



was giving at the time, on the Immortality of the Soul 
and on the " Five-fold Sphere." The same month he 
returned to London, and shortly after published the 
Cena (Ash- Wednesday Supper), in which he ridiculed The Cena. 
the Oxford Doctors. Inter alia, he thought they knew 
a good deal more of beer than of Greek. 1 The impres 
sion this attack produced in his London circle was 
apparently not that which he desired, for in the following 
dialogue, the Causa, he was much more judicious. 2 The Causa. 
He admitted much in the university that was well 
instituted from the beginning : " the fine arrangement 
of studies, the gravity of the ceremonies, careful 
ordering of the exercises, seemliness of the habits worn, 
and many other circumstances that made for the require 
ments and adornment of a university ; without doubt 
every one must admit it to be the first in Europe, and 
consequently in all the world nay, more, " in gentle 
ness of spirit and acuteness of mind, such as are 
naturally brought out in both parts of Britain, it equals 
perhaps the most excellent of the universities. Nor is 
it to be forgotten that before speculative philosophy 
was taught in any other part of Europe it flourished 
here, and through its princes in metaphysics (although 
barbarians in speech and of the profession of the cowl) 
the splendour of one of the noblest and rarest spheres 
of philosophy, in our times almost extinct, was diffused 
to all other academies in civilised countries." What 
Bruno condemned in Oxford was the undue attention 
it gave to language and words, to the ability to speak 
in Ciceronian Latin and in eloquent-phrase, neglecting 
the realities of which the words were signs. As for 
the knowledge of Aristotle and of philosophy generally 
that was demanded for the degree of Master or Doctor, 

1 Lag. p. 120 ff. 2 L. p. 220. 


Bruno suggests an evasion that probably had its origin 
in the undergraduate wit of the time. The statute 
read "nisi potaverit e fonte slristotelis" but there were 
three springs in the town, the Fans Aristotelis, Fans 
Pythagorae, Fons Platonis, and " as the water for the 
beer and cider was taken from these springs, one could 
not be three days in Oxford without imbibing not 
merely of the spring of Aristotle, but of those of 
Pythagoras and of Plato as well." Doctors were 
easily created and doctorates easily bought. There 
were of course exceptions, men renowned for eloquence 
and doctrine like Tobias Matthew 1 and Culpepper,- 
but as a rule the nobility and best men generally 
refused to avail themselves of the " honour," and pre 
ferred the substance of learning to its shadow. 



It was after his return from Oxford that the pleasant 
London, and busy life in London literary society began the 
period of Bruno s greatest productiveness. In the 
house of the enlightened and cultured Mauvissiere he 
found, for the first time since leaving Nola, a home. 3 
Bruno s position in London has given rise to great 
difference of opinion ; none of the ordinary contem 
porary records make mention of him, or the slightest 
allusion to his presence in England. At his trial he 
professed to have brought letters to the French 
Ambassador from the King of France, to have stayed 
at the house of the former continuously, to have gone 

1 1546-1628. Studied at University College ; President of St. John s, 1572-7 j 
Dean of Christ Church (to 1584)5 afterwards Archbishop of York: "One of a 
proper person (such people, ceteris faribus and sometimes ceteris imparibus, were preferred 
by the Queen) and an excellent preacher " (Fuller, quoted in the Diet. Nat. Biog.) 

- Warden of New, 1573-99; Dean of Chichester, 1577. 

3 yide Trig. Sigllii, Dedication. 


constantly to the Court with the Ambassador, and to 
have known Elizabeth ; and in his works he claims 
intimacy with Sidney and Greville. It was consequently 
thought that he moved in the highest English society 
of the time, and from the Cena that he belonged to a 
literary coterie, or club, of which Sidney, Greville, 
Dyer, Temple, and others were members. Lagarde, 
believing Bruno (but on ludicrous grounds) l to have 
sprung from the lowest of Italian society, could hardly 
accept this familiar legend of Bruno-biographies, and 
more recently, the Quarterly Review has questioned 
both the friendship with Sidney and Greville, and the 
existence of the supposed Society. As to the last, 
there was certainly at one time a literary society, 
Sidney s Areopagus, to which Spenser belonged in 
1579, but which concerned itself chiefly with artificial 
rules of versification, and the merits of various metres ; 
the habit of meeting may have very well persisted for a 
few years, after the first flush of enthusiasm had passed, 
and the Ash Wednesday supper may have represented 
one of these meetings to which Bruno the defender 
of the Copernican theory may have been invited as 
Protagonist. As for Bruno s position, it must have 
been that of a secretary or tutor, perhaps both, in 
Mauvissiere s employment. The French Ambassador 
was constantly in want of funds, and could not very 
well afford to support any casual stranger whom the 
King of France recommended to him. In November 
1584 he complained of absolute penury, of being 
unable to obtain money due to him from the King of 
France (the King paid him by occasional doles only), of 
being hard pressed by London and Italian bankers, 
while his wife was in ill health. He was not greatly 

1 Vide add. note. 


respected either by the Court, who, with good grounds, 
believed him to have no influence with the French 
King, or by Mary of Scotland and the English 
Catholics, partly because of his supposed Huguenot 
leanings, and partly because of their distrust of Henry 
III., or by the French King himself. Mauvissiere had 
been sent to England as one who could be trusted not 
to err by way of undue zeal. Henry had no desire to 
see the unfortunate Queen of Scots liberated, although 
he put out all his diplomatic power to save her life ; 
the status quo in England suited his policy only too 
well ; there was no need for active interference. It was 
Mary of Guise that spurred on Mauvissiere to act as 
energetically as he did for Oueen Mary. We may 
assume then that Bruno, when Oxford rejected him, 
entered the French Embassy as an unofficial secretary. 
The words he employed at the Venetian inquiry quite 
harmonise with this supposition : " In his house I 
stayed as his gentleman, nothing more," not as friend 
or guest, but as " his gentleman." That he went 
constantly to Court with the Ambassador, and was 
introduced to Queen Elizabeth, would be natural in the 
case of a secretary it would be curious in the case of a 
mere guest, or of any servant lower than a secretary. 
Finally, in the Infinite* the grateful remark that 
Mauvissiere entertained Bruno within his family, " not 
as one who was of service to him (Mauvissiere), but 
as one whom he could serve on the many occasions 
in which aid was required by the Nolan," obviously 
suggests that services were rendered by Bruno to the 
Ambassador. A man who was prepared to make a 

1 Doc. 9, Berta, p. 305. " Castelnuovo, in casa del qual non faceva altro se non 
che stava per il sue gentilhomo." 

2 Preface, L. 305. 


living by teaching children as readily as by lecturing 
to students, by setting books in print as readily as by 
writing them, was not likely to be an expensive 
secretary, and it must have been pleasant to Bruno to 
escape from the turmoil of scholastic strife and its 
bitter antagonisms to the quiet haven of the Embassy. 
His host was a well-meaning, kindly, but unfortunate 
man, unequal to the great issues that were being 
decided around him. Although it was a Catholic 
family, and mass was frequently said in the house, 
Bruno s religious freedom was respected. He attended 
neither mass nor any of the preachings, on account of 
his excommunication. If one may judge from Bruno s 
enthusiasm, the wife and daughter of Mauvissiere must 
have been charming companions, the one " endowed 
with no mean beauty of form, both veiling and clothing 
the spirit within, and also with the threefold blessing 
of a discreet judgment, a pleasing modesty, and a kind 
courtesy, holding in an indissoluble tie the mind of her 
consort, and captivating all who come to know her" ; 
the other, " who has scarcely seen six summers, and 
from her speech you could not tell whether she be of 
Italy, of France, or of England ; from her musical 
play, whether she is of corporeal or incorporeal 
substance ; from the ripe sweetness of her manners, 
whether she is descended from heaven or risen from 
earth." For Mauvissiere himself, to whom the three 
most important of the Italian dialogues are dedicated, 
no words that Bruno can invent are too high praise. 
In the dedication of the Causa, after comparing his 
persevering zeal and delicate diplomatic powers to the 
dropping of water upon hard stone, and his steadfast 
support of Bruno in face of detractions of the ignorant 

1 Lag. 264, 20. 


and the mercenary, of sophists, hypocrites, barbarians, 
and plebeians, to the strength of the rock against 
seething waves, the philosopher adds, " I, whom the 
foolish hate, the ignoble despise, whom the wise love, 
the learned admire, the great honour I, for the great 
favours enjoyed from you, food and shelter, freedom, 
safety, harbourage, who through you have escaped so 
terrible and fierce a storm, to you consecrate this 
anchor, these shrouds and slackened sails, this merchan 
dise so dear to me, more precious still to the future 
world, to the end that through your favour they may 
not fall a prey to the ocean of injustice, turbulence, and 
hostility." The merchandise of which Bruno thought 
so highly was the Dialogue itself ; we must of course 
allow for the grandiloquence of the dedications of 
the time, and of Bruno s especially, but a real gratitude 
shines through the words. 

ouecn His account of the Queen must be taken much less 

seriously, although his praise of her formed one of the 
many counts against him in Venice. " That most 
singular and rare of ladies, who from this cold clime, 
near to the Artie parallel, sheds a bright light upon all 
the terrestial globe. Elizabeth, a Queen in title and in 
dignity, inferior to no King in all the world. For her 
judgment, counsel, and government, not easily second 
to any other that bears a sceptre in the earth. In her 
familiarity with the arts, knowledge of the sciences, 
understanding and practice of all languages spoken in 
Europe by the people or by the learned, I leave the 
whole world to judge what rank she should hold 
among princes." l In a satirical passage of the Causa, 
where Bruno is proving that all vices, defects, crimes 
are masculine, all virtues, excellences, goodnesses, 

1 L. H3- 


feminine, Elizabeth is given as a crowning example : 
" than whom no man is more worthy in the whole 
kingdom, among the nobles no one more heroic, 
among the long robed no one more learned, among 
the councillors no one more wise." * Exaggerated as 
the language is, it is not more so than was common 
with the writers who adorned Elizabeth s Court ; and 
it was one of his errors which Bruno could easily regret 
before his judges. " In my book on the Cause, Principle, 
and One, I praise the Queen of England and call her 
divine, not as a term of worship, but as an epithet 
such as the ancients used to apply to their princes, 
and in England where I then was, and where I com 
posed this book, the title * divine is usually given to 
the Queen. I was the more inclined to call her so, 
that she knew me, as I went continually with the 
Ambassador to Court ; but I know I erred in praising 
this lady, she being a heretic, and in calling her 
divine. Through Mauvissiere, Bruno made acquaint 
ance with Bernardino di Mendo^a, Spanish Ambassador 
to England from 1578 to 1584, a much stronger man 
as well as a more unscrupulous servant of his king 
than Mauvissiere could be. Bruno says definitely that 
Mendo^a was known by him at the English Court. 
So well was he known that Bruno approached the 
Ambassador in Paris on the delicate subject of his own 
relations with the Catholic Church, and was introduced 
by him to the Papal Nuncio. There is absolutely no 
reason for doubting these statements, and if true, they 
are quite compatible with acquaintance, if not friend 
ship, between Bruno and Sir Philip Sidney, or the 
others whom he mentions. Mendo^a was not, how 
ever a persona grata at Court : he was a thorough-going 

1 L. 226. 25 ft . 


supporter of the Scottish Queen, and seems to have 
had a finger in almost every conspiracy that was 
planned or formed by the English Catholics. He 
became unbearable to Queen Elizabeth ; his recall was 
demanded and refused ; but in January of 1584 he 
was compelled to leave England, and a formal rupture 
with Spain was the consequence, which became actual 
war four years afterwards. Philip of Spain did not 
desert his champion, in whom he had the highest 
confidence. In October of 1584 Mendo^a became 
Ambassador to France, and there in 1855 Bruno 
renewed acquaintance with him. 

Like all his contemporaries, Bruno came under the 
Sidney, spell of Sir Philip Sidney s charm. He had already 
heard in Milan and in France of that " most illustrious 
and excellent cavalier, one of the rarest and brightest 
spirits in the world." To Sir Philip are dedicated the 
two chief ethical writings of Bruno, the Spaccio, and 
the Heroici Furori, with the expressed assurance that 
the author is not presenting a lyre to a deaf man, nor 
a mirror to a blind. " The Italian reasons with one 
who can understand his speech ; his verses are under 
the censure and the protection of a poet. Philosophy 
displays her form unveiled to so clear an eye as yours. 
The way of heroism is pointed out to a heroic and 
generous spirit." Sidney was one of the first to take 
an interest in the Italian on his arrival in England, 
and when the Spaccio was published, on the eve, as 
Bruno thought, of his departure from England towards 
the close of 1584,* Bruno could not turn his back 
upon Sidney s " beautiful, fortunate, and chivalrous 
country, without saluting him with a mark of recogni- 

1 Mauvissiere s successor was nominated in Nov. 1584, although he did not leave 
until a year later. 


tion, along with the generous and humane spirit, Sir 
Fulke Greville." There was some disagreement, how- 
ever, between Greville and Bruno, " the invidious 
Erinnys of vile, malignant, ignoble, interested persons, 
had spread its poison " between them, in Bruno s 
emphatic words. What the ground of division was 
we do not know ; possibly the tone in which the Cena 
spoke of Oxford men, and of English scholars generally, 
had offended Greville, and this may have called out 
the partial retractation in the Causa. As is well 
known the friendship of the two men, Sidney and 
Greville (with whom Edward Dyer was closely 
associated), was of the noblest type. Greville died in 
1628 in the fulness of years and of honours, but had 
retained the impress of his young friendship fresh to 
the end. 1 It may be added that he became an intimate 
of Francis Bacon, who may through him have been 
introduced to Bruno s works. It must have been in 
some such way also that Spenser knew of Bruno, as it is Spenser 
probable that the Cantos on Mutability (first published 
posthumously in 1609, but written probably after his 
visit to England in 1596) were "suggested" by 
Bruno s Spaccio? The " new poet " certainly could 
not have met Bruno, for he was in Ireland continuously, 
as secretary, from 1580 till 1589, when he came over 
to publish the first three books of the Faerie Queen. 

It is possible, on the other hand, that Bruno met 
Bacon, who was a rising young barrister and member Bacon. 
of Parliament when he arrived in England, and had 
already achieved some fame as a critic of Aristotle. 
The idea, however, that he knew and influenced 

1 Vide add. note. 

- First pointed out, I believe, by Mr. Whittaker in Essays and Notices, 1895 
(v. the note to Giordano Bruno, p. 94). 



Shakespeare, is entirely fanciful. Richard Field, a 
friend of Shakespeare, had come to London in 1579, 
and served his apprenticeship with Thomas Vautrollier ; 
shake- anc j Field was Shakespeare s first publisher, having set 
up for himself by 1587. It has been suggested that 
before this time Shakespeare worked in Vautrollier s 
printing office. On the other hand, it has been 
universally received that Vautrollier was Bruno s 
publisher in England, and Bruno usually corrected 
his own proofs. Hence the two may have met, 
Shakespeare and Bruno, in a grimy printer s den. The 
idea is charming, but it has to yield before the light 
of fact. Shakespeare did not come to London until 
1586, and there is no proof that he worked with 
Vautrollier. Bruno had left England by the end of 
1585, and there is no proof that Vautrollier was his 
printer. The suggested analogies between one or two 
ideas in Hamlet and Bruno s conceptions of trans 
migration, of the relativity of evil, and the rest, are 
of the shallowest. 1 Thomas Vautrollier, a French 
printer who came to London some years before, and 
set up a press in Blackfriars, was said (by Thomas 
Baker) to have gained an undesired notoriety as 
Bruno s printer, and to have been compelled to leave 
England for a period, which he spent in Edinburgh, 
to the advantage of Scottish printing. The Triginta 
Sigilli and all the Italian Dialogues of Bruno were 
certainly published in England, although Venice or 
Paris was set down as their place of publication. 
According to Bruno, this was " that they might sell 
more easily, and have the greater success, for if they 

1 Cf. the Quarterly Review, Oct. 1902. The references are Tsc/iisc/iiui/z : 8hake- 
speare-Fonchungen Hamlet, 1868 ; W. Kbnig, Shakespeare- Jahrbuch, xi. ; Frir/i s 
Giordano Bruno ,- on the other side Beyersdorff, Giordano Bruno und Shakespeare (1889) ; 
Furncss in the Nnu Variorum Shakespeare. 

i FLORIO 35 

had been marked as printed in England, they would 
have sold with greater difficulty in those parts." It is 
doubtful, however, whether Vautrollier was really the 
printer ; in any case it was not on that account that 
he went to Edinburgh. 1 

Of the Italians in England during Elizabeth s reign 
the most familiar to us is Florio, whose father had been riorio. 
preacher to the Protestant Italians in London. Florio 
had been at Oxford, from which university he dedicated 
his " First Fruites " to Leicester in 1578, so that he was 
already well known as a scholar when Bruno came 
to England and made his acquaintance. This may have 
occurred through Sidney ,- or vice versa, Sidney s 
attention may have been called to Bruno by Florio. 
The latter was described by Cornwallis as one who 
looked " more like a good fellow than a wise man," 
yet was "wise beyond his fortune or his education." 
It was long after Bruno s departure that Florio devoted 
himself to the charming translation of Montaigne 
(published in 1603), of which a copy has been found 
bearing Shakespeare s name, while to Shakespeare is 
attributed a sonnet in praise of Florio. Curiously, we 
find him in his translation acknowledging assistance from 
one with whom Bruno also has casually connected him 
in the Cena, viz. Matthew Gwinne. Of Bruno s more 
intimate acquaintance in England we know little : there 
are two whose names occur in the dialogues, " Smith " 
in the Cena, and Dicson in the Causa, both sympathetic Alexander 
listeners and adherents of Theophilo^ who is Bruno s 
representative. The former it is naturally difficult to 
place : he may however have been the poet William 
Smith, a disciple of Spenser, who published a pastoral 
poem l Chloris, or the Complaint of the Passionate 

1 Vide add. note. 


Despised Shepherd." Of Dicson, " learned, honour 
able, lovable, well-born faithful friend Alexander Dicson, 
whom the Nolan loves as his own eyes," l a little more 
can be told. He was the author of a De Umbra Rationis, 
(1583), obviously inspired by Bruno s De Umbris 
Idearum, and on the same basis of Neoplatonism. The 
work is extremely sketchy, occasionally diffuse, and of 
little value even were there anything of value in the Art 
of Memory which it teaches. But it seems from a 
A-.ndic- reply it called forth {Antidicsonus} to have had some 
vogue, and to have been backed by a vigorous and 
aggressive school in which Bruno, who is joined in 
condemnation with Dicson, may have had a place. 2 
Watson. The poet Thomas Watson has also connected Bruno 
with Dicson in his Compendium Memorise Localis, 
published in 1585 or 1586. Watson also published a 
translation of Tasso s Aminta, in Latin hexameters, 

in 1585, i.e. in the year following the appearance 

of Bruno s Spaccio, with its satire on Tasso s Age of 
Gold? Watson had been in Paris in 1581, when he 
met W T alsingham, and he may of course have met 
Bruno also : he was a scholarly poet, although his 
work lay more in the direction of translation and 
imitation of foreign writers, than in that of original 
verse, but during his lifetime he ranked as the equal of 
Spenser and Sidney. The Compendium of Local Memory 
is in clear, simple, classical Latin, in strong contrast 
with the corresponding works of Dicson and of Bruno ; 
but the principles of the Art which it describes are 
those of Bruno, or Ravenna, or of some common source, 
more skilfully arranged and more aptly expressed. 

1 Lag. 223. 4. 2 Vide infra, part ii. ch. 9. 3 In the Aminta. 



No fewer than seven works from Bruno s facile pen 
were published in England ; the first of these was the 
Thirty Seals, and the Seal of Seals (1583) Explicatio Thi Thirty 
Triginta Sigillorum, quibus adject us est Sigillus * Sigill- 
orum. It was dedicated to Mauvissiere, but the 
introductory epistle was addressed to the Vice - 
Chancellor of Oxford. Bound along with it, in front, 
was a Modern and Complete Art of Remembering 
which is merely a reprint of the last part of the 
Cantus Circteus. The work belongs to the mnemonic 
and psychological writings of Bruno ; the thirty seals 
are hints " for the acquiring, arranging, and recol 
lecting of all sciences and arts," the Seal of Seals 
" for comparing and explaining all operations of the 
mind. And it may be called Art of Arts; for here 
you will easily find all that is theoretically enquired 
into by logic, metaphysics, the cabala, natural magic, 
arts great and small." (The part called Sigillus 
Sigillorum was a volume of Bruno s Clavis Magna, 
perhaps the only volume published.) It was followed 
by an Italian dialogue, " the Ash Wednesday Supper," 
La Cena de le Ceneri, also dedicated to Mauvissere. cena at k 
Written in praise of the Copernican theory, it goes Cene " 
beyond Copernicus himself in its intuition of the 
infinity of the universe, of the identity of matter in 
the earth with the matter of the planets and stars, and 
of the possibility that such living beings inhabit them 
as inhabit the earth : earth and stars themselves are 
also said to be living organisms : so there are not 
seven planets or wandering stars only, but innumerable 

1 Sigillus is really a diminutive of " Signum " in Bruno s view ; "Seal" therefore 
means much the same as " Sign." 


such ; for every world, whether of the sun-type or of 
the earth-type, is in motion, its motion proceeding 
from the spirit within it. Finally, this philosophy is 
shown to be in complete accord with all true religion, 
to conflict only with the false. After the " Ash- 
Wednesday Supper " came " Cause, Principle, and 
ia rau;a. Unity" (De la causa, principio et Uno}, 1584 ; again 
"o f il%[. dedicated to Mauvissiere. 1 The first of its dialogues 
is an apology for the Cerza, which, as we have seen, had 
caused considerable feeling in Bruno s circle of readers, 
for the severity and irony of its strictures upon Oxford, 
and England generally. In the others the immanence 
or spirituality of all causation ; the eternity of matter ; 
its divinity as the potentiality of all life ; its realisation 
in the universe as a whole (as a " formed " thing) ; the 
infinite whole and the innumerable parts, as different 
aspects of the same : the origin of evil and of death : 
the coincidence of matter and form in the One : the 
source of all individual and finite forms in the one 
material substance : the coincidence in the One of the 
possible and the real, the century and the moment, 
the solid and the point : the universe all centre and 
all circumference : diversity and difference as nothing 
but diverse and different aspects of one and the same 
substance: the coincidence of contraries: these are 
among the chief topics of this, the freshest and most 
brilliant of Bruno s philosophical writings : " a dialogue 
worthy of Plato," Moritz Carriere has said. In the 
same year appeared The Infinite Universe and its 
tmfinho worlds (De / infinite universe et Mondi), dedicated to 
rfi" Mauvissiere. 2 It contained a masterly array of reasons, 

1 " Venezia " on the title-page. 

2 Again " Venetia." The Introduction b translated in A collection of several pieces, 
by Mr. John Toland, z vols., London, 1726. 


physical and metaphysical, for the belief that the universe 
is infinite, and is full of innumerable worlds of living 
creatures ; sense and imagination are shown to be at 
once the source and the limit of human knowledge. 
Yet the argument is mainly a priori : the infinite 
power of the Efficient Cause cannot be ineffective, the 
divine goodness cannot withhold the good of life from 
any -possible being ; the divine will is one with the 
divine intelligence and with the divine action : all 


possible existence falls within the sphere of the divine 
intelligence, therefore is willed ; but whatever is willed 
is realised, for the power is infinite ; and whatever is 
is good, for it is willed by the infinitely good. What 
ever really is, is a substance, and therefore immortal. 
The substance of us is immutable, only the outward 
face or form of it changes, passes away ; in the whole 
all things are good ; where things appear evil or 
defective, it is because we look at the part or the 
present, not at the whole or the eternal. 

"The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast," Spaccio SpacchJeia 

* bestia trton- 

de la bestia trionfante, 1584,* was dedicated to Sir Philip fame. 
Sidney. In form an allegorical, satirical prose poem, it 

1 " Parigi." Translated, except for the introductory letter to Sidney, in Sf. dalla 
Best. Triom., or the Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, London, 1713 ; attributed 
to W. Morehead. 

The Spaccio was in its outward form, no doubt, suggested by Lucian a Parliament 
of the Godt. Fiorentino has pointed out that Niccolo Franco had made use of a 
similar idea in a dialogue published in 1539, in which he described a journey to 
heaven, where he was at first refused admittance ; he had a parley with the Gods, 
until, with the aid of Momus, he obtained permission to enter, conversed with Jupiter, 
received some favours, and returned. Franco was impaled in 1565 by Pope Pius V., 
hence perhaps the absence of his name in Bruno. Perhaps the idea of the Spaccio 
was also determined by a prophecy of the Bohemian Cipriano Leowicz ("On the 
more signal great conjunctions of the planets," 1564), that about the beginning of 
April 1584 would occur a reunion of almost all the planets in the sign of Aries, and 
it should be the last in that sign. It was inferred that the Christian religion would 
also come to an end then. This would agree with the reason given above for Bruno s 
preface, viz. that he was leaving England in 1584, Mauvissiere s term having 


is in fact an introduction to a new ethical system. A 
repentant Jupiter resolves to drive out the numerous 
beasts that occupy his heavenly firmament the con 
stellations and to replace them by the virtues, with 
Truth as their crown. He calls a council of the gods to 
consider this plan, and in the discussion that follows 
numberless topics are touched upon the history of 
religions, the contrast between natural and positive 
religion, and the fundamental forms of morality. The 
Spaccio is, however, preparatory to a future work, in 
which moral philosophy shall be treated " by the inner 
light which the divine intellectual sun has irradiated 
into my soul," says Bruno ; ] in it, and other dialogues, 
the whole structure of the philosophy is to be completed, 
of which the Eestia is merely a tentative sketch. " 
Jupiter represents the human spirit ; and the constella 
tions, the Bear, the Scorpion, etc., are the vices of the 
age, which are to be driven out by Bruno s hierarchy of 
virtues. The work, which is rich in both moral and 
religious suggestion, was early regarded as an attack on 
the Pope or the Church, the supposed "Triumphant 
Beast." Caspar Schopp, for example, writes to that 
effect after witnessing Bruno s death. It is really an 
attack upon all religions of mere credulity as opposed to 
Thec^v,;, religions of truth and of deeds. The "Cabal" (Cabala 
del Cavallo Pegaseo, con F Aggiunta del? Asino Cilknico] 
was published in I585- 3 It is dedicated to an imaginary 
Bishop of Casamarciano, who represents the spirit of 
backwardness, ignorant simplicity, and was not a real 
person, as some biographers supposed. It is a still 
more biting, a merciless satire on Asinity (i.e. ignorance, 
credulity, and unenquiring faith in religion). In a 
later work 4 there is a remark on the Asinus Cillenicus, 

1 Lag. 417. 2 Ib, 408. 3 Parigi is on the title page. * Op. Lat. ii. 3, 237. 


" the image and figure of the animal are well known, 
many have written on it, we among the rest, in a 
particular fashion ; but as it displeased the vulgar, and 
failed to please the wise, for its sinister meaning, the 
work was suppressed." Whether this refers to the 
whole Cabala, or to the last part of it, is not known. 

The " Enthusiasms of the Noble " (De gf heroici /// 
furor i\ 1585,* dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney, consists ^^T" 
of sonnets, with prose illustrations, after the model of 
Dante s Vita Nuova. Its theme is that of the 
Ph<edrus and Symposium, the rising of the love for 
spiritual beauty out of that for sensible beauty, reaching 
its height in the divine furor an ecstatic unity with 
the divine life, in which all the miseries and misfortunes 
of the merely earthly life disappear. Many of the 
sonnets are of extreme beauty, although Brunnhofer 
goes too far when he speaks of them as surpassing 
Petrarca s, except in smoothness of form, and as 
equalling Shakespeare s. 


It may not be amiss to give from these works some The women 

f TT 1 A 

illustrations of life in England as Bruno found it. 

England, as in the days of Erasmus, was renowned 
on the continent for its beautiful women, and Bruno s 
passionate and enthusiastic nature could not but feel 
the attraction of " the fair and gracious nymphs of 
England." In the Cena he appeals to the muses of 
England, " gracious and gentle, soft and tender, young, 
fair and delicate, blond-haired, white of chin, pink of 
cheek, of enticing lips, eyes divine, breasts of ivory, 

1 Also Parigi. Translated in "The Heroic Enthusiasts," an Ethical Poem, by L. 
Williams, London, 1887. (The Argument or Summary, and the Apology of Bruno, 
are omitted.) 


and hearts of adamant : how many thoughts do I weave 
for you in my mind, how many emotions besiege my 
spirit, how many passions fill my life, how many tears 
pour from my eyes, sighs burst from my breast, fires 
sparkle from my heart " ? l Nature was taking its 
revenge indeed for the long years of suppression in the 
Church. If this dark, slender, " interesting " Italian 
found favour with the fair and cultured inhabitants of 
England, he was the less successful with the people in 
general, the Plebs, then as now uncompromisingly 
opposed to the " foreigner." In his belief England 
" could boast of a Plebs which for want of respect, 
rudeness, roughness, rusticity, savagery, ill training, 
was second to none in the world." No doubt he 
writes from experience when he describes the greater 
part of them as appearing like so many wolves and 
bears, when they see a foreigner one part of them, 
the artisans, shopkeepers, knowing you as some kind of 
foreigner, screw their noses at you, call you dog ! 
traitor ! stranger ! which is with them a term of high 
abuse, and renders its object liable to all the injuries in 
the world, no matter what manner of man he is, young 
or old, in gown or in uniform, noble or gentleman. 
They will come upon you with a rustic fury, careless of 
the who or why, where, or how, not referring to one 
another, but every one, giving vent to the natural hatred 
he has for the foreigner, will try with his own hand and 
his own rod to take the measure of your doublet, and 
if you are not careful to save yourself, of the hair of 
your head ; and when at length you think you may be 
allowed to go to the barber s, and to rest your wearied, 

1 Lag. 123. 3. Cf. Her. Fur. 747. 19 " le belle et gratiose Ninfe del Padre 
Tamesi," 749. 40, " Leggiadre Nimphe, ch a le herbose Sponde del Tamesi gentil 
fatte Soggiorno," and 753. 10. 

2 Lag. 144. 10. 


ill-handled body, behold them so many executioners 
and tipstaffs ; if they can pretend that you touched any 
one of them, you will have your back and legs as sore 
as if you had the heels of Mercury, or were mounted 
upon the Pegasean Horse, or bestrode the steed of 
Perseus, the Hippogriff of Astolfo, the dromedary of 
Madian, or had trotting under you one of the giraffes 
of the three Magicians : by force of blows they will 
make you run, helping you forward with their heavy 
fists, better for you were they hoofs of ox, ass, or 
mule : and will not let you go till they have you fast 
in a prison, and there I take my leave of you." In 
the second dialogue of the Cena, there occurs incident 
ally, a characteristic account of the state of Elizabethan 
London. Fulke Greville had agreed with Bruno to 
have a discussion in his house on the Copernican theory, 
on the evening of Ash Wednesday. When the day- 
came, no further message arriving, Bruno concluded 
that the meeting had been postponed, and after dinner 
went out to visit some Italian friends. Returning after 
sunset, he found Florio and Guin (Gwynne), impatiently 
awaiting him : a number of cavaliers, gentlemen, and 
doctors, had met to hear the discussion, but the chief 
character of the play was awanting. They hurried him 
off, in the dark, and thinking to shorten the road, left 
the straight way and made for the Thames to get a boat 
to take them to the Palace. " Arrived at the bridge of 
Lord Buckhurst s Palace, we shouted and cried for 
oares - id esf Gondolieri - and wasted as much 
time as would easily have sufficed to take us by land to 
our destination, and to have done some business on the 
way. At last from afar two boatmen replied, and 
slowly, slowly drew up to the shore ; after many inter 
rogations and replies as to the whence, whither, why, 


and how much, they rested the bow on the last step of 
the bridge. Then one of the two, that appeared like 
the ancient boatman ot the Tartarean world, gave his 
hand to the Nolan, while the other, who I think was 
his son, although his years were five and sixty or so, 
received the rest of us. Although there was no 
Hercules or Aeneas or Rhadamanth, king of Sarza, still 

. . . Gcmuit sub pondere cimba 
Sutilis, ct multam acccpit limosa paludem. . . 

" The sweet harmony (of its creaking and whistling) 
like love, invited us to forget our misfortunes, the 
times and the seasons, and to accompany the sounds 
with song. Florio (recalling his days of love) sang 
Dove senzci me dolce mi a vita, and the Nolan replied 
with Saracin doknte or Femenil ingegno, and the like ; 
and so little by little we advanced as the barque 
permitted. Although worms and age had reduced it to 
something like cork, it seemed from its festina lente 
all of lead, and the arms ot the two ancients worn 
out. So with much time we made little way, and 
before we had covered a third of the distance a 
little beyond the place they call the Temple our 
old fathers, instead of hurrying, ran their prow along 
side the shore. To the Nolan asking if they wished 
a little breathing time, they answered that they were 
not going any further, tor this was their stance. 
In conclusion, they would not budge for us, and when 
we had paid them and thanked them (there is nothing 
else to do when you suffer a wrong from one of 
these canaille], they showed us the direct road for 
getting on to the street. Now, oh for your help, 
Maphelina, muse of Merlin ! That was a road which 
commenced in a black mud, from which there was 


no escape even by good luck. The Nolan, who had 
studied and practised in the schools more than we, 
bade us follow him through a passage, that he thought 
to see, filthy though it was. But he had not ceased 
speaking when he was planted in the mire so firmly 
that he could not drag out his limbs, and so with 
mutual help we went through the midst of it, hoping 
that the purgatory would be of short duration ; but 
by unjust and hard fate he and we found ourselves 
engulfed in a slimy passage, that, just as if it were 
the field of jealousy or the garden of delights/ 
was bounded on this side and on that by good walls, 
and because there was no light to guide us we could 
not distinguish between the way we had come and 
the way we ought to go, hoping at every step for 
the end." ..." Higher up the street we found a lava 
which on one side left a stony place where we could 
walk dry ; step by step we stumbled like drunk men 
and not without danger of breaking a head or a leg. 
To make a long story short at last the Elysian fields 
appeared, viz. the broad, ordinary street and then 
from the houses we discovered we were about twenty 
steps from the place where we had set out to find 
the boatman, and not far from the Nolan s rooms ! " 
The temptation to give up the expedition was over 
come, and after sundry adventures with apprentices, 
servitors, and bravos of the gentle class, they arrived 
safely at Fulke Greville s, where supper was already 
in progress. 

In the Italian dialogues the personal note of com- Hostility h 
plaint sounds more highly than in Bruno s other works, 
and we may imagine that Bruno himself felt neglected 
in England more than in other countries, while 


English hostility to his teaching was probably more 


contemptuous, therefore more galling and more difficult 
to overcome. He might repeat as he did, the bold 
saying that " to the true philosopher every country is 
fatherland, " or call himself with Socrates a citizen of 
the world ; but a touch of despair sounds through the 
words : " a citizen and servant of the world, son of 
Father Sol and Mother Earth ; because he loves the 
world too much, he must be hated, cursed, persecuted, 
and rejected by it. Meanwhile let him not be idle, 
nor ill -occupied while awaiting death, transmigration, 
change." 1 Elsewhere there is almost a savage stoicism ; 
he cries that he is attacked not by one but by many, 
almost by all, and the reason is that he hates the 
people, cares not for the multitude, adores one thing 
only : " That through which he in subjection is free, 
in pain content, in necessity rich, in death living, and 
through which he envies not those who in freedom 
are slaves, in pleasure pained, in riches poor, in life 
dead, because in the body they have a chain that 
binds them, in the spirit an inferno that depresses them, 
in the soul error that weakens them, and in the mind 
lethargy that slays, etc." Yet the climate of England 
seems to have pleased Bruno : " there more than in 
any other region the climate is temperate ; for the 
excessive rigour of the snows is driven out by the 
earth beneath, and the superfluous fervour of the sun 
blesses it with a continuous, a perpetual spring, as is 
testified by the ever green and flowery land." 3 From 
the Spaccio, it appears that he was struck in England, 
inter alia, with the multitude of crows, the richness of 
the sheep and the sleekness of the cattle, the stern 
game-laws, and the land-hunger of the people. 4 

1 Lag. 406. 17 (Sfaccio}. 2 Lag. 292. 3 521. 27 ff. 

4 55 1 - 3 8 , 522. 23, 55- 2, 49- 3- 



When Mauvissiere was recalled, Bruno in all prob- Return to 
ability sailed with him. It had been decided, unjustly, October 
as Mauvissiere thought, to recall him to France in I5S 5- 
1584 ; but owing to his wife s health and perhaps his 
claims on the French treasury, he secured a postpone 
ment till the following year, on condition he should do 
his best for Queen Mary and her son with Elizabeth, 
" but not mix himself up with any of the plots against 
Elizabeth." In October 2, 1585, he was still in 
London, for he wrote to his friend Archibald Douglas, 
the Scottish Ambassador, from London on that date ; 
the following letter, however, was from Paris (Nov. 3, 
1585) and told a pathetic story. 1 On his way across 
(Bruno with him, we may suppose) he had been 
" robbed of all he had in England, down to his shirt, of 
the handsome presents given him by the Queen, and of 
his silver plate : nothing was left, either to him or to his 
wife and children, so that they resembled those exiled 
Irish who solicit alms in England, with their children 
by their side." He had lent money also to the Queen 
of Scots, and was in great trouble concerning it, " for 
neither her officers nor her treasurer possessed a sou, 
nor did they speak of repayment." The unfortunate 
ambassador had fallen upon evil days : he was accused 
of having spoken ill of his successor, Chateauneuf, and 
had to write, as the report went, to Elizabeth, to unsay 
his insinuations. In December 1586, he wrote to 
Archibald Douglas of his wife the Maria de Bochetel, 
whom Bruno praises having died in childbirth. It 
would be interesting to know how Bruno fared in the 
robbery of Mauvissiere s goods. At least we may 

1 Salhhury Papers, iii. p. 112. 


assume that he arrived in Paris with very little worldly 
goods, but with part of the manuscript of a great work 
on the Universe (the De Immenso] in his possession, 
during the month of October 1585. 


p ar is : " In Paris I spent another year in the house of 

j^nelsse" gentlemen of my acquaintance, but at my own expense 
the greater part of the time : because of the tumults I 
left Paris, and went from there to Germany." l So 
Bruno told the tribunal at Venice ; but the duration of 
his second visit to Paris was from October 1585 to 
Tlv . June 1586. One of his first steps was to make further 

efforts towards reconciliation with the Church : he pre 
sented himself for confession to a Jesuit father, while 
consulting with the Bishop of Bergamo (the Papal 
Nuncio), but they were unable to absolve him, as he 
was an apostate. What Bruno wished was that he 
might be received into the Church without being com 
pelled to return again to the priesthood, and he begged 
the Nuncio to write to the Pope Sixtus V. on his behalf. 
The Bishop, however, had no hope of the favour being 
granted, and declined to write unless Bruno agreed to 
return to his order. To the same effect was the advice 
of the Jesuit father Alfonso Spagnolo to whom he 
was referred ; to obtain absolution from the Pope he 
must return to the order -to his bonds, in other words ; 
and without absolution he could not enjoy the pri 
vileges either of mass or of the confessional. 2 This idea 
Bruno could by no means entertain, and therefore he 
resigned himself to his position as an alien to the 
Catholic Church. He had no intention of remaining 

1 i Doc. 9. 2 Doc. 17. Berti, p. 4z6, 4 Z 7 . 


n Paris, where perhaps his Italian writings had made 
iim no longer acceptable, but he desired not to leave 
t without some recognition of the favour shown him 
there in the past. The means he adopted was a public 
disputation, to be held in the Royal Hall of the uni 
versity at Pentecost of the year 1586. These disputa 
tions of the learned were a delight to the youth of the 
time, and drew audiences comparable in our own time 
only to great football or cricket matches. 1 He drew up 
one hundred and twenty theses against the Peripatetic The 120 
Philosophy, which still formed the substance of the 
teaching at the Sorbonne ; and his side was taken up by 
the rival, more modern, college of Cambray (afterwards 
the College of France), of which he appears now to 
lave become an associate. 2 It was the custom of the 
real propounder of the theses to preside at the debate, 
leaving it to another to act as protagonist, and inter 
vening only when the latter s discomfiture was imminent. 
In this case Bruno chose a young Parisian nobleman of 
his own following John Hennequin, a Master of Arts 
but we may well imagine that he did not long keep 
silent himself. We have no knowledge of how the 
debate went, but it cannot have been too favourable to 
Bruno, for he left Paris immediately afterwards. Its 
date was the 25th of May; Bruno, therefore, left Paris 
probably in early June 1586. 

The articles, with a note of explanation attached to Criticism of 
each, and an introduction to the whole (Excubitor, the 
Awakener) being the address of Hennequin at the 
beginning of the disputation, but written by Bruno 
himself were published in Paris and again at Witten 
berg. 3 They contain a temperate but powerful criticism 

1 Landseck s Bruno. - Vide Op. Lot. vol. iii. Introd. p. xxxix. 

3 Centum et Viginti Articuli De Natura et Mund-j, adv. Peripateticoj, Paris, 



of the Aristotelians, by the words of Aristotle himself, 
and of Aristotle from the standpoint of Bruno s own 
physical theory, which he believed to be that of the 
Pythagoreans and Platonists. The right to criticise the 
" divine " Aristotle, Bruno claimed on the same grounds 
as those on which Aristotle himself enjoyed the right of 
criticising his predecessors : we are to him as he to 
them : their truth, which to him seemed error, may be 
right to us again, for opinion, like other history, moves 
in cycles. And as to authority, the mass of which was 
against Bruno, " if we are really sick, it helps us nought 
that public opinion thinks we are really making for 
health." : " It is a poor mind that will think with 
the multitude because it is a multitude : truth is not 
altered by the opinions of the vulgar or the confirma 
tion of the many " " it is more blessed to be wise in 
truth in face of opinion than to be wise in opinion in 
face of truth." The new philosophy gives wings to 
the mind, to carry it far from the prison cell in which 
it has been detained by the old system, and from which 
it could look out upon the orbs of the stars only through 
chinks and cracks : to carry it out into infinite space, 
to behold the innumerable worlds, sisters of the earth, 
like it in heart and in will, living and life-producing ; 
and returning, to see within itself " not without, apart, 
or far from us, but in ourselves, and everywhere one, 
more intimate, more in the heart of each of us, than we 
are to ourselves " the divine cause, source, and centre 
of things. Aristotle and the sources of the scholastic 
philosophy were occupying Bruno s leisure almost ex 
clusively at this time : he had begun the great Latin 

1586; and " J. B. N. Camoeiacensis sfcrctismus, etc." Wittenberg, 1588. " Camoera- 
censis " qualifies Bruni, " of the College of Cambray." Acrotismus is barbarous 
Latinising of A/cpoacrts. 

1 Of. La:, i. i. 63. 2 i. i. 65. :i Ib. 68, 69. 


work, the De Immenso, which was to see the light in 
Frankfort ; and he published in this year a commentary 
on the physics of Aristotle as well as an account of a 
mathematical and cosmometric invention of one Fabrizio 
Mordenti, which seems to be of much less value than 
Bruno supposed. 1 


Leaving France for Germany, the Nolan made his 1586. 
first halt at " Jlfez, or Afagonza, which is an archi- 
episcopal city, and the first elector of the Empire"; 2 
it is certainly Mayence. There he remained some Mni^. 
days ; but not finding either there or at " Vispure, a 
place not far from there," any means of livelihood such 
as he cared for, he went on to Wittenberg in Saxony. 
" Vispure " has caused considerable exercise of ingenuity Mnrburj 
among Bruno s biographers. The best explanation 
seems to be that of Brunnhofer, that it represents 
Wiesbaden, which is not far from Mayence, and is still 
popularly known as Wisbare or Wisbore ; but there 
may also be a telescoping of the words Wiesbaden and 
Marburg. Bruno was certainly at the latter town, but 
it is of course a long distance from Mayence. On the July 25, 
ist of July 1586, Petrus Nigidius, Doctor of Law and I5 6 
Professor of Moral Philosophy, was elected Rector of 
the university at Marburg. In the roll of students 
matriculated under his rectorship stands as eighth name 
that of" Jordanus No/anus of Naples, Doctor of Roman 
Theology," with the date July 25, 1586, and the 
following note by the rector : " When the right 

O / O 

of publicly teaching philosophy was denied him by me, 

1 Figuratio ArisMclici Phyiici Auditus, Paris, 1586. D-alogj Duo dt Falricii Salernitani prtpt di-vina aditrvtntione ad lerfectam cosmimetrae praxim, 
Paris, 11586. Vide add. note. 

2 Doc. 9. 


with the consent of the faculty of philosophy, for 
weighty reasons, he blazed out, grossly insulting me 
in my own house, protesting I was acting against the 
law of nations, the custom of all the universities of 
Germany, and all the schools of humanity. He refused 
then to become a member of the university, his fee 
was readily returned, and his name accordingly erased 
from the album of the university by me." The name 
could still be read through the thick line drawn across 
it, and some later rector, when Bruno had become more 
famous, re-wrote the name above, and cancelled the 
words " with the consent of the faculty of philosophy " 
in Nigidius note. 1 The " weighty reasons " for which 
Bruno was driven from Marburg may have been merely 
his description of himself as a Doctor of " Roman 
Theology " at a Protestant university ; or perhaps an 
attack upon Ramus at a place where the Ramian Logic 
had many adherents ; or the Copernican system taught 
by him, which was as firmly opposed by Protestants 
as by Catholics. In any case " the Knight-Errant of 

Wittenberg. Philosophy " departed sorrowfully and came to Witten 
berg, where he found, for the third time, a respite 

Aug. 20, from his journeyings. On the 2Oth August 1586 he 
matriculated at the university,- and there remained for 
nearly two years. Then, as now, the Protestant Church 
in Germany was divided into two parties, the Lutheran 
and the Calvinist or Reformed Churches. Melanchthon s 
attempt to unite the two he himself belonged to the 
latter brought upon his head the " formula of con 
cord," better known as the " formula of discord," 
because of the disputes it caused. Among other things 

1 Eglin, a pupil of Bruno, was Professor of Theology at Marburg in 1607 
(Brunnhofer, p. 60). 

2 Sigwart. The university has since been united with that of Halle, the seat 
being at the latter place. 


it condemned the views of the Calvinists on the person 
of Christ, their denial of his " Real Presence " in the 
bread and wine of the communion table, and their 
doctrine of predestination. When Bruno arrived in 
Wittenberg, Lutherans were still in power, as they 
had been under the old Duke Augustus. His son 
Christian I., however, under the influence of John 
Casimir, his brother-in-law, of the Palatinate, had gone 
over to the Calvinist faction, and was trying with the 
aid of the Chancellor, Krell, to supplant the reigning 
faith and authority. At the university the philo 
sophical faculty was, in the main, Calvinist, the 
theological Lutheran ; and among the latter party was 
an Italian Alberico Gentile, the father of International 
Law, whom Bruno had perhaps known in England as 
a professor at Oxford. Through him Bruno found 
favour with the Lutheran party, and received permission 
to lecture, on the condition that he taught nothing that 
was subversive of their religion. For two years, accord 
ingly, he lectured on the Organon of Aristotle, and other 
subjects of philosophy, including the Lullian art, which 
he had for a time discarded. The excellent terms on 
which he stood with his colleagues is shown by the 
dedication of a Lullian work, De Lampade Com- Dedication 
binatoria, to the senate of the university. He speaks Lampadc. 
gratefully of their kind reception of himself, the 
freedom of access and residence which was granted not 
only to students but to professors from all parts of 
Europe. In his own case " a man of no name, fame, 
or authority among you, escaped from the tumults of 
France, supported by no princely commendation, with 
no outward marks of distinction such as the public 
loves, neither approved nor even questioned in the 
dogmas of your religion ; but as showing no hostility to 


man, rather a peaceful and general philanthropy, and 
my onlv title the profession of philosophy, merely 
because I was a pupil in the temple of the Muses, you 
thought me worthy of the kindliest welcome, enrolled 
me in the album of your academy, and gave me a 
place in a body of men so noble and learned that I 
could not fail to see in you neither a private school nor 
an exclusive conventicle, but as becomes the Athens of 
Germany, a true university." In this introduction a 
large number of the professors are invoked by name, 
among them the enlightened Gru n, a professor of 
philosophy, who taught that theology cannot be 
detached from philosophy that they are necessary 
complements one of the other. 

In Wittenberg was published (icS?), the De 

p .:blish"ii. 

Lampade Comblnatoria Lulliana, the second of the 
commentaries on Lully s art, and representing perhaps 
the clavis magna of the De Umbris and other Parisian 
publications. It was dedicated to the senatus of the 
University of Wittenberg. A reprint, however, appeared 
in Prague in the following year with a new frontispiece, 
a dedication to William of St. Clement, and the addition 
of a small treatise. 1 The chief purpose of the work 
was to furnish the reader with means for " the discovery 
of an indefinite number of propositions and middle 
terms for speaking and arguing. It is also the sole 
key to the intelligence of all Lullian works whatsoever," 
Bruno writes with his sublime confidence, " and no less 
to a great number of the mysteries of the Pythagoreans 
and Cabalists." As in the earlier work, so in this also, 
the root ideas are that thought is a complex of elements, 
which are to it as the letters of the alphabet are to a 

1 De Specierum Scrutinio et Lampade Combinatorial Raimur.di Lulli, " the omniscient 
and almost divine hermit doctor." Prague, 1588. 


printed book ; but thought and reality or nature are 
not opposed to one another they are essentially one. 
The elements of thought when discovered will accord 
ingly give us the constitutive elements of nature and 
the connections in, and workings of, nature will be 
understood from the different complications of these 
simple elements of thought. In the same year appeared 
the De Progressu et Lampade Venatorid Logicorum, DC p,- - 
" To enable one to dispute promptly and copiously f 5 g"" 
on any subject proposed." It was dedicated to the 
Chancellor of the University of Wittenberg, and was 
mainly a commentary, without special references, on the 
Topics of Aristotle, and doubtless formed part of the 
lectures on the Organon, given in Bruno s first year at 
Wittenberg. The simile of the hunt i.e. the idea that 


the solution of a problem or the finding of a middle 
term is like a quarry that has to be stalked and hunted 
down is a favourite one with Bruno. 

Unfortunately for Bruno, the Duke s party in 1588. 
Wittenberg soon gained the upper hand only for a 
time, it is true l and the party to which Bruno himself 
belonged fell out of power. As a Copernican, Bruno 
must in any case soon have fallen foul of the Calvinists, 
by whom the new theory had been declared a heresy. 
He therefore left Wittenberg in the beginning of 1588, 
after delivering on the 8th of March an eloquent fare 
well address to the university (Oratio Valedictoria]. o ra tk 
By the fable of Paris and the three Goddesses, he 
indicated his own choice of Wisdom (Minerva) over 
riches or fame (Juno), and over worldly pleasure or the 
delights of society (Venus) : " Wisdom is communi 
cated neither so readily nor so widely as riches or 
pleasure. There are not and there never have been so 

1 Krell was imprisoned, and put to death ten years later. 



many Philosophers as Emperors and Princes ; nor to so 
many has it been granted to see Minerva robed and 
armed, as to see Venus and Juno even in naked 
simplicity. To see her is to become blind, to be wise 
through her is to be foolish. They say Tiresias saw 
Minerva naked, and was struck blind ; who that had 
looked upon her, would not despise the sight of other 
things? man shall not see me and live. . . . Wisdom, 
Sophia, Minerva, beautiful as the moon, great as the sun, 
terrible as the marshalled ranks of armies ; like the 
moon in her fair gracefulness, like the sun in her lofty 
majesty, like armies in her invincible courage. . . . The 
first-born before all creatures, sprung from the head of 
Jove for she is a breath from the virtue of God, an 
emanation of omnipotent brightness, sincere and pure, 
clear and inviolate, honourable, powerful, and kind 

beyond words, well pleasing to God, incomparable : 

pure, because nothing of defilement can touch her ; clear, 
because she is the brightness of eternal light ; inviolate, 
because she is the spotless mirror of the majesty of 
God ; honourable, because the image of goodness itself; 
powerful, because being one she can do all things, being 
permanent in herself, she renews all things ; kind, 
because she visits the nations that are sacred to her and 
makes men friends of God, and prophets ; pleasing to 
God, because God loves only him that dwells with 
wisdom ; incomparable, for she is more beautiful than the 
sun and brighter than the light of all the stars. Her have 
I loved and sought from my youth, and desired for my 
spouse, and have become a lover of her form and 1 
prayed that she might be sent to abide with me, and work 
with me, that I might know what I lacked, and what 
was acceptable to God : for she knew and understood, 
and would guide me soberly in my work and would 


keep me in her charge : . . . But wisdom in the highest 
sense, in its essence as the thought of God, is incommuni 
cable, incomprehensible, apart from all things. Wisdom 
has three phases or aspects or mansions first, the 
mind of God the eternal, then the visible world itself 
which is the first-born, and third, the mind of man 
which is the second-born of the highest, the true 
wisdom unattainable by man. Here among men 
wisdom has built herself a house of reason and of 
thought (which comes after the world), in which we see 
the shadow of the first, the archetypal and ideal house 
(which is before the world), and the image of the second, 
the sensible and natural house, which is the world. 
The seven columns of the house or temple are the 
seven Arts Grammar, Rhetoric (with poetry), Logic, 
Mathematics, Physics, Ethics, and Metaphysics, and 
the temple was built first among the Egyptians and 
Assyrians, viz. in the Chaldeans, then among the 
Persians, with the Magi and Zoroaster, third the 
Indians with their Gymnosophists ; . . . seventhly, in 
our time, among the Germans." So far has Bruno come 
from taking the Germans as mere beer-bibbers, as he 
had written of them in England. 1 " Since the empire 
(of wisdom) devolved upon you there have risen 
amongst you new arts and great minds, the like of 
which no other nations can shew." In the category 
of German temple-builders are Albertus Magnus, 
Nicolas of Cusa, Copernicus, Palingenius, Paracelsus ; 
" among humanists many, apt imitators of the Attic and 
Ausonian muses, and among them one greater than the 
rest who more than imitates, rather rivals, the ancient 
muses " (Erasmus). It is not unnatural that, in his own 
Wittenberg, Luther should be praised, as among the Luther. 

1 Vide Sfaccio, Lag. 516. II, and 553. 21 ff. 



temple-builders or priests of truth : but Bruno s words 
have a ring of sincerity, proving that his sympathy was 
really aroused for the Lutherans. " When the world 
was infected by that strong man armed with key and 
sword, fraud and force, cunning and violence, hypocrisy 
and ferocity, at once fox and lion, and vicar of the 
tyrant of hell, infected with a superstitious worship 
and an ignorance more than brutal, under the name of 
divine wisdom and of a God-pleasing simplicity ; and 
there was no one to oppose or withstand the voracious 
beast, or dispose an unworthy and abandoned generation 
to better and happier state and condition, what other 
part of Europe or the world could have brought forth for 
us that Alcides, stronger than Hercules himself, in that 
he did greater things with less effort and with fewer 
instruments, destroying a greater and far more deadly 
monster than ever any of the past centuries had to suffer ? 
Here in Wittenberg he dragged up that three-headed 
Cerberus with its threefold tiara from its pit of dark 
ness : you saw it, and it the sun. Here that dog of 
Styx was compelled to vomit forth its poison. Here 
your Hercules, your country s Hercules, triumphed over 
the adamantine gates of hell, over the city girt about 
with its threefold wall, and defended by its nine 
windings of the Styx." 

To this temple Bruno, eager in his pursuit of the 
ever-eluding Truth, had come, "a foreigner, an exile, 
a fugitive, the sport of fortune, meagre in body, slender 
of means, destitute of favour, pursued by the hatred of 
the multitude and the contempt of fools and the base," 
and could on leaving say to its people that he had 
become " an occasion, or matter, or subject in whom 
they unfolded and demonstrated to the world the beauty 
and wealth of their virtues of moderation, urbanity, and 

! PRAGUE 59 

kindness of heart." It was the last, or nearly the last, 
spell of happiness that life had in store for him. 


The court of the Emperor Rudolph II. was at Prague, Py : 
in Bohemia ; from there his fame as a Maecenas of the 
learned, and especially of those who claimed power to 
read the heavens or to work magic, had spread to many 
countries. Perhaps Sidney, who had visited him from 
Elizabeth on the death of Maximilian, may have spoken 
of him to Bruno : while two of Bruno s friends, the 
Spanish Ambassador St. Clement and the mathematician 
Mordentius, were at Prague in 1588. Thither, accord 
ingly, he now turned in the hope of settled quarters, 
introducing himself, as was his frequent habit, with a 
Lullian work, which he caused to be printed soon after 
his arrival, and dedicated to the Spanish Ambassador. 1 
The introductory letter is dated from Prague, June June 10, 
10, 1588, and is in praise of Lully, whose importance 
to philosophy Bruno values much more highly than his 
successors have done : it promised at the same time a 
future work, the Lampas Cabalistica, in which the inner 
secrets of Lullism were to be more fully revealed. 
This, so far as we know, never appeared, and Bruno 
tried to obtain the Emperor s patronage by a mathe 
matical work dedicated to him, of somewhat revolu 
tionary type " One hundred and sixty articles against 
the mathematicians and philosophers of the day." The 
Emperor, however, had few funds to spare for any 
but the professed astrologists and alchemists in whom 
lay his real interest not at all scientific, although 
Tycho Brahe and Kepler profited themselves and the 

1 De Sptcierum Scrutinio, vide supra, p. 54. 



world by it. With three hundred dollars, which the 
Emperor gave in recognition of his powers, Bruno left 
January^, about the close of the year, and on January 13, 1589, 
matriculated in the Julian university of Brunswick 
Heimstadt. at Helmstadt. This, the youngest university in 
Germany at the time, of only twelve years standing, 
had been founded for the Protestant cause by the 
reigning Duke Julius, a breezy and popular prince, 
who loved theologians little, Catholics not at all, and 
founded a model university on liberal principles. 
It was not, however, an unqualified success. Bruno 
received some recognition from the university, or from 
the Duke, and when the latter died in May 1589 he 
obtained permission to give a funeral oration some days 
after the official programme had been carried through 
(on the ist of July) the Oratio Consolatoria} 

Bruno professes as his reason for wishing to speak 
that he must express his gratitude to one who had made 
the university he founded free to all lovers of the 
Muses, even to strangers such as Bruno himself was : 
an exile from his Italian fatherland for honourable 
reasons and zeal for the truth, here he had received 
the freedom of the university : in Italy he was 
exposed to the greedy maw of the Roman wolf here 
he was in safety : there he had been chained to a 
superstitious and absurd cult here he was exhorted to 
more reformed rites. What is remarkable in this 
speech is the bitterness of Bruno s personal attack upon 
Rome, and " the violent tyranny of the Tiberine beast." 
The constellations are allegorically treated as symbols 
of the virtues of Julius, or of the vices which he attacked 
and repressed : among them " the head of the Gorgon, 
on which for hair there grow venomous snakes, 

1 Published 1589, Helmstadt. 


representing that monster of perverse Papal tyranny, 
which has tongues more numerous than the hairs of the 
head, aiding and serving it, each and all blasphemous 
against God, nature, and man, infecting the world with 
the rankest poison of ignorance and vice." It was 
indeed strange that Bruno should have thought of 
entering Italy after publishing words like these. 

However he was not to find the Protestants much Excom- 


more tolerant than the Catholics. In the university O f Bruno in 

, r i ,i Helmstadt. 

archives there is extant a letter from him to the 
prorector of the academy, appealing against a public 
excommunication of himself by the first pastor and 
superintendent of the church at Helmstadt, Boethius. 
According to this letter, Boethius had made himself both 
judge and executioner, without giving the Italian a 
hearing at all : and the letter appealed to the senate and 
rector against the public execution of an unjust sentence, 
privately passed ; it demanded a hearing, so that if any 
legal derogation were to be made from his rank and 
good name, he might at least feel it to be justly made, 
and demanded that Boethius be summoned to show he 
had not fulminated his bolt out of private malice, but 
in pursuance of the duty of a good pastor on behalf of 
his sheep. The date of the letter is October 6, 1589. Oct. 6, 
No further records of the affair have been found, so 
that the appeal was probably rejected. The meaning 
of the excommunication is not quite clear : Bruno does 
not seem to have been a full member of either the 
reformed or the Lutheran church, although attending 
services ; and in all probability the sentence was a formal 
one, which, however, carried serious social incon 
veniences with it. The prorector, Hofmann, was 
not one to sympathise either with Bruno or with his 
philosophy ; he was unhappy unless attacking some other 


person s opinions : philosophy in general fell under his 
condemnation, although he professed knowledge of it. A 
few years after he drove Bruno from Helmstadt he him 
self was dethroned from his place of authority, " ordered 
to stick to his last," and had to leave Helmstadt in the 
end (1601). No doubt it is against him that the 
invectives in De Immenso? are directed : " This schol- 
arch, excelling director of the school of Minerva : 
this Rhadamanthus of boys, without a shadow of an 
idea even of ordinary philosophy, lauds to the skies 
the Peripatetic, and dares to criticise the thoughts of 
diviner men (whose ashes are to be preferred to the 
souls of such as these)." Later Boethius also had to 
be suppressed by the consistory. 2 The young Duke, 
with whom no doubt Bruno stood in favour, since he 
presented him with eighty scudi after the funeral 
oration, was of the opposite party to Hofmann, but 
even with this support the Italian could not struggle 
against his enemies, and towards the middle of 1590 
1590- he left for Frankfort, " in order to get two books 


Frankfort. These were the great Latin works he had been writ 
ing, perhaps begun in England itself; the De Minimo, 
and the De Immense, with the De Monade as a part of 
or introduction to the latter. The printing, however, 
was not begun till the following year : the censor s 
permission was obtained for the first of them only in 
March 1591, and it appeared in the catalogue of the 
Spring bookmarket. He again sought and found 
patronage with an old friend of Sir Philip Sidney, one 

1 Bk. iv. ch. 10. 2 Cf. Frith s Eruno, p. 200. 

T FRANKFORT (1590) 63 

of the Wechels, famous printers of their day, in the 
house of another of whom (Andre) Sidney had lived. 
In the protocol-book of the council of Frankfort, under 
the date July 2, 1590, a petition of Jordanus Brunus of 
Nola is mentioned, in which he asks permission to stay 
in the house of the printer Wechel. This, as the book 
of the Burgomaster under the same date shows, was 
roughly refused : " Soil man ime sein pitt abschlagen, 
and sagen, das er sein pfennig anderswo verzehre " 
" his petition is to be refused and he is to be told go 
and spend his coin elsewhere." In spite of this refusal, 
Wechel found Bruno lodging in the Carmelite Monas 
tery, where he stayed, working with his own hands at 
the printing of his books, for some six months, until 
December, perhaps, of that year. Frankfort was the 
main centre of the book world in those days ; to its 
half-yearly book-marts printers and sellers came from 
all parts of Europe to see the new books of the world, 
to dispose of their goods, to stock their houses. Among 
others in this year came the booksellers Ciotto and 
Bertano, who afterwards were witnesses before the 
Inquisition, and who stayed in the monastery probably 
in September of that year, where they met Bruno. In 
the dedication of the De Minimo, of date February 13, 
1591, Bruno s publishers wrote that "he had only the 
last folium of the work to correct, when by an unfore 
seen chance he was hurried away, and could not put the 
finishing hand upon it, as he had done on the rest of 
the work : he wrote accordingly asking us to supply in 
his name what by chance it had been denied him to 
complete." The "unforeseen chance" may, as Sigwart 
suggests, have been the final putting into effect of the 
Council s refusal to allow him to stay in the town, which 
may till then have remained a dead letter ; or it may 


have been the summons to Zurich. He had made the 
aquaintance of a young Swiss squire, Hainzel, an 
Augsburger by birth, at whose castle of Elgg in 
Switzerland a gay and open hospitality was extended to 
a number of the bizarre and the learned spirits of the 
time : Hainzel had leanings towards the Black Arts, 
Alchemy and the rest, but had interest to spare for 
any others about which an air of mystery clung, such 
as Bruno s Art of Memory and of Knowledge. Bruno 

Zurich, spent a few months with him near Zurich and wrote for 
him the De imaginum compositione, etc. as a handbook 
of these arts. Another of the Frankfort pupils would 
also be in Zurich, the brilliant but erratic Raphael 
Eglin, who published in 1609 at Marburg (where he was 
professor of theology), a work Bruno had dictated in 
Zurich, the Summa Terminorum Metaphysicorum. 
Eglin suffered along with his friend Hainzel from 
the trickery of the Alchemists, to whom recourse was 
had in the hope of repairing the fortunes dissipated by 
the Squire of Elgg s hospitality. 1 The Summa is 
dedicated in a letter of April 1595 (from Zurich) to 
Frederic a Salices, and in a personal reminiscence 
Eglin remarks on Bruno s fluency of thought and 
speech " standing on one foot, he would both think 
and dictate as fast as the pen could follow : so rapid 
was his mind, so forceful his spirit." 

In order perhaps to print the De Imaginum Com- 
positione for Hainzel, or to complete the other works, 
Bruno returned to Frankfort about the beginning of 

March, March, 1591, and on the iyth of that month obtained 
permission to publish the De Minima. 1 It is to this 
period probably that he referred when he spoke of him 
self before the Venetian tribunal, as having spent six 

1 fide Brunnhofer and Sigwart. - Censor s Register : Frankfort Archives. 


months in Frankfort (Doc. 9). It was a second period 
of six months after his return from the Zurich visit, of 
which he omitted all mention no doubt he had good 
reason for that. 1 At the autumn book-market his De 
Monade, De Immenso, and De Imag. Composition, were 
ready 2 the last works that he published. About the 
same time, on an evil day for himself, he responded to 
the invitation of a young Venetian patrician, and crossed 
over to his fatherland, the last of his free journeyings. 
The Frankfort works are fully dealt with in the 
chapters on Bruno s philosophy that follow : in their 
order they were ( i ) the De triplid Minima et Mensura : D : Minima. 
" On the threefold minimum and measurement, being 
the elements of three speculative and of many practical 
sciences " : dedicated to Duke Henry of Brunswick. It 
is the first of three Latin poems, written somewhat after 
the manner of Lucretius, but with prose notes to each 
chapter or section. The style unfortunately seldom 
approaches that of Lucretius, either in Latinity or in 
poetic imagery, but the works are full of vigorous verse, 
and the force of the ideas suffers little from the fact 
that they are pressed into the Procrustean bed of rhyme 
and rhythm. The others were (2) the De Monade, De Mmade. 
Numero et Figura : " On the Monad, number and 
figure, being the elements of a more esoteric (secret, or 

o o 

perhaps inward} Physics, Mathematics, and Meta 
physics"; and (3) the De Immenso et Innumerabilibus : Dt b:mtr.. 
" On the Immeasurable and the Innumerable, or on 
the universe and the worlds." Both are dedicated to 
Duke Henry. The three works together contain 
Bruno s finished philosophy of God and of Nature, of 
the universe and of the worlds within it, as well as a 

1 Sigwart, and Op. Lat. vol. iii. introd. p. xxix. 

- Bassaus Catalogue of Frankfort Books from 1 564-1 592, printed 1592 (Sigwart). 



criticism of the prevailing and contrary doctrines of the 

DC imag. In Frankfort appeared also, in 1591, (4) the De 
Imaginum, Signorum, et Idearum Compositione : " On 
the composition or arrangement, of Images, Signs, and 
Ideas, for all kinds of inventions, dispositions, and 
memory." It is dedicated to Hainzel, and is the last 
of the works published by Bruno himself. It sums up 
all those published earlier on the theory of knowledge 
and on the art of memory. It assumes an identity 
between the Mind from which the universe sprang, or 
which is expressed in the universe, and the mind of each 
individual by whom it is known or approached. It 
follows that the ideas in our own minds contain im- 

\ V. 

plicitly a knowledge of the inmost nature of reality. 
Here, however, it is chiefly the mnemonic corollaries of 
this thought that are developed ideas are to be 
arranged or grouped about certain images or pictures, 
in such a way that when any one occurs to the mind, it 
may readily call up those others which are most closely 
associated with it, i.e. which belong to the same TOTTO? 
or " place " in the mind. 


Venice. During the second part of his stay in Frankfort, 

Bruno received an invitation from a young patrician of 
Venice, Giovanni Mocenigo, to come to him there and 
instruct him in the arts for which Bruno was famed. 
To the surprise of all who knew the circumstances, 

Aug. 1591. Bruno accepted, and re-entered, in August, the Italy 
which he had left some fourteen years earlier as a 
refugee. It was through the bookseller Ciotto that 
the negotiations were carried on. Mocenigo appeared 


in his shop one day to buy a work of Bruno which 
Ciotto in his deposition called at first the Heroici 
Furori, but this name was cancelled, and De Minim o 
mag no et mensura written in its stead ; in all probability 
it was neither the Furori nor any of the Latin poems to 
which the second (erroneous) title might refer, but one 
of the Lullian works. Mocenigo asked at the same 
time whether Ciotto knew Bruno, and where he was ; 
and on the reply that he was probably at Frankfort 
(they had found lodging in the same monastery 
there), Mocenigo expressed a wish that Bruno would 
come to Venice to teach him the secrets of Memory, 
and the others he professed, as shown by the book that 
had just changed hands. Ciotto believed Bruno would 
come if asked ; and accordingly, after a few days, 
Mocenigo brought a letter for Bruno, which Ciotto 
undertook to deliver, and in which he was besought to 
come to Venice. The message must have been delivered 
in the autumn of 1591, and Bruno seems to have replied 
by immediate acceptance. 1 A previous letter, however, 
had been written, probably before Mocenigo spoke with 
Ciotto, and sent by another hand ; it may have been 
the receipt of it which brought Bruno from Zurich to 
Frankfort, to hasten the printing of his Latin works. 
In both letters there were evidently specious promises 
of protection. 2 

The motives of Mocenigo were more than question 
able. He was of the noblest blood of Venice, the Doge s 
Chair having been seven times filled by members of his 
family, and among the patrician youth there was a 
fashionable craze for Lullism and kindred much-pro 
mising arts at this time. 3 De Vakriis, another Venetian 

1 Doc. 6 (Giotto s evidence). 2 Doc. 8 (Bruno s own statements). 

3 Sigwart, Kl. Schriftcn, \. p. 302. 



noble, wrote, in 1589, an Opus Aureum, which was 
published at Strassburg along with other Lullian works 
(including Bruno s) in 1609. Again, Bruno believed in, 
and probably taught, a kind of "natural magic," the 
magic of sympathetic influence from stars, animals, 
plants, and stones upon the life of man. Mocenigo, 
as his conduct abundantly showed, was shallow, mean, 
superstitious, weak-minded, and vain. He was just the 
type of man to be attracted therefore by anything that 
savoured of the black art, of which Bruno was popularly 
regarded as a devotee. His real aim may have been to 
be initiated by Bruno into this, although he professed 
the desire merely of having the Lullian mnemonics and 
art of invention taught him. His disappointment, when 
he found Bruno had nothing new to give him in that 
direction, might account, in a man of his character, for 
the revenge he took. But there may have been worse 
behind : Mocenigo had been one of the Savii air Eresia 
the assessors appointed by the State to the Inquisition 
Board in Venice and was therefore familiar with the 
intrigues of that body. He was also under the influence 
of his Father Confessor, by whose orders he denounced 
Bruno. The proceedings make it extremely probable, 
Bruno s therefore, that the Inquisition laid a trap for Bruno, into 
returning which he unsuspectingly walked. It is more difficult 
to understand how the latter so calmly entered the lion s 
jaws. AcidaIius(Valen.s Havekenthal), writing to Michael 
Forgacz from Bologna (January 21, 1592), expressed the 
general surprise. " Tell me one thing more : Giordano 
Bruno, whom you knew at Wittenberg, the Nolan, is 
said to be living just now among you at Padua. Is it 
really so ? What sort of man is this that he dares enter 
Italy, which he left an exile, as he used himself to 
confess ? I wonder, I wonder ! I cannot yet believe 


the rumour, although I have it on good authority. You 
shall tell me whether it is true or false/ But clearly 
ill rumours were spreading, for on the third of March March 3 , 
he wrote in a different tone, " I no longer wonder about 
that other sophist, so diverse and incredible are the tales 
I hear daily of him here. 1 l Probably Bruno did not 
understand what manner of reputation he had ; he still 
regarded himself as belonging to the Catholic Church. 
Ciotto deposed he had heard nothing from Bruno s lips 
which might suggest a doubt of his being a good 
Catholic and Christian. Venice was a free and powerful 
state, Mocenigo the son of a powerful house, so that he 
may well have looked for safety ; and it was his beloved 
Italy, for which he had never ceased to yearn since the 
day he had crossed the Alps. 

To Venice, at any rate, he came, living for a time by 
himself, and spending some three months also at Padua, 
the neighbouring university town, where he gathered 
pupils about him, and wrote as constantly as before. 
Some manuscripts that were bought in Paris a few years 
ago, and which had belonged to Bruno, were partly 
written in the hand of one of these pupils, Jerome 
Besler, whom Bruno had known in Helmstadt, and who 
acted there as his copyist. Others of his German, and 
possibly some English friends were met with at this 
renowned university. 2 It was only a few months after 
he left that Galilei was invited to teach in Padua " the 
creator of modern science following in the steps of its 
prophet." 3 The university was in a state of ferment 
at the time Bruno arrived, one of the hottest disputes 
being that between the students and certain professors, 

1 Vide Of. Lat., vol :., introcl. p. xx. 

- Bertano described him as lecturing at Padua to some German scholars (Doc. 7). 
On Besler, and Bruno s connection with him, -u. Stblzle, s-lrcki-j f. Gesc/:;c/ite d. 
P/rJ., iii. Riehl, Giordano Bruno. 


who read or dictated instead of freely speaking their 
lectures Doc fores chartacei they were called and a 
fine of twenty ducats was imposed by the senate on 
every one who should be found guilty of this crime. 
Bruno s memory art may therefore, as Bartholmess 
suggests, have " supplied a felt want." 

Bruno in Early in 1592 Bruno took a fatal step, which showed 

house" how little he realised his danger he gave up his personal 
freedom and went to Jive in Mocenigo s house. There 
the two opposite natures soon clashed, and the young 
patrician began to show his real character. The teaching 
did not satisfy him, did not give him the power over 
nature and man which he no doubt expected. He 
approached Ciotto again before the spring book-market, 
telling him how Giordano was living in his house at his 
expense, "who promised to teach me much, and has 
had clothes and money in plenty from me, but I cannot 
bring him to a point, and fear he may not be quite 
honest " ; and asking him to make inquiries in Frank 
fort as to Bruno s character, and the likelihood of 
his fulfilling his obligations. Ciotto returned with an 
unfavourable report : Bruno was known to make pro 
fession of a memory-art, and of other similar secrets, 
but had never been known to do any good with them, 
and all who had gone to him for such things had 
remained unsatisfied ; moreover, it was not understood 
in Frankfort how he could stay in Venice, as he was 
held for a man of no religion. To this Mocenigo 
replied, " I too have my doubts of him, but I will see 
how much I can get of what he promised me, so as not 
to lose entirely what I have paid him, and then I will 
give him up to the judgment of the Holy Office" 
the Inquisition. This estimable frame of mind no doubt 
asserted itself in the relations of pupil and master. 


Bruno had been introduced by Ciotto to the house of 
Andrea Morosini, an enlightened patrician, whose open 
hospitality a number of the most cultured men of the 
time enjoyed ; they formed an Academy after the 
manner of those of Cosenza, Naples, and other places. 
" Several gentlemen meet there," said Morosini of these 


gatherings, " prelates among them, for entertainment, 
discoursing of literature, and principally of philosophy ; 
thither Bruno came several times, and talked of various 
things, as is the custom ; but there was never a sign 
that he held any opinions against the faith, and so far 
as I (Morosini) am concerned, I have always thought 
him a Catholic, and had I had the least suspicion of the 
contrary I should not have permitted him to enter my 
house." l The last statement must, of course, be taken 
cum grano. At this time Bruno was preparing a work 
on "the Seven Liberal Arts, and on Seven other In 
ventive Arts," 2 which he hoped to be able to present to 
the Pope in order to obtain from him absolution, and 
have the bann of excommunication removed, without 
the compulsion of again entering the order. Many 
Neapolitan fathers of the order came to Venice to a 
meeting of Chapter, and to some of these Bruno spoke 
to a Father Domenico especially: he wished to 
present himself at the feet of his Holiness with some 
" approved " work, and his ultimate design, as he told 
Domenico, was to go to Rome and live quietly a life of 
letters, perhaps obtaining some lecturing in addition. 3 
Among others he consulted Mocenigo, who promised to 
assist him so far as he could. 

1 Doc. 15, Morosini s evidence. 

Doc. 17 (Bruno). Cf. 16 (Ciotto re-examine. i), ami 9 (Bruno). 
:i Doc. 10. 



Meantime Mocenigo was putting pressure on Bruno 
to obtain the secrets he sought to know, while Bruno 
at Jast became aware of his danger. He pretended he 
wished to go to Frankfort to have some books printed, 
and on a certain Thursday in May he took leave of 
Mocenigo. The latter, fearing his prey was about to 
escape, began to cajole him into staying, but passed to 

May 22. complaint and finally to threats as Bruno persisted. 
On the night of the following day (Friday), as Bruno 
had already made preparations for leaving, Mocenigo 
came with his servitor Bartolo and five or six men, 
whom Bruno recognised as gondoliers, from the neigh 
bouring stance, seized the philosopher and locked him 
up in an attic-room. Mocenigo promised, if he would 
stay and teach what was desired viz. " the formula 
for memory and geometry " ! to set him at liberty, 
otherwise something unpleasant would befal him. This 
novel method of drawing instruction being foiled by 
the self-respect of the prisoner, the latter was left for 
the night, transferred the following day to a cellar 
under the ground, and during the night was handed 

The in- over to the servants of the Inquisition, who brought 
him to their prison. On the 23rd of May, Mocenigo 
denounced him to the Holy Office, with a hideous but 
cunning travesty of some of his opinions, reporting 
him, for example, as saying that Christ s miracles were 
only apparent, that He and the apostles were magicians, 
and that he himself (Bruno) could do as much or more 
if he had a mind ; that the Catholic faith was full of 
blasphemies against God ; that the Friars ought to be 
prevented from preaching, and should be deprived of 


their revenues, because the world was befouled by 
them they were asses, and the doctrines of the Church 
asses beliefs, and so on. The arrest was on the 
following night (Sunday night), and on the Monday 
a second denunciation was entered by Mocenigo, than Second DC- 

. . r . - . . ,- nunciation. 

which there is no more pitiful seir-revelation or mean 
ness and hypocrisy extant. He confesses or rather 
boasts that, on locking up Bruno, he had recited the 
charges he would make against him, " hoping to coerce 
him into revealing his secrets," i.e. the Secret Arts. . 
Bruno s only reply had been to ask for his liberty, to 
say that he had not really intended to leave, but was 
still ready to teach Mocenigo everything he knew, to 
work for him (" to be my slave," said Mocenigo), 
without any further recognition, and to give him any 
thing that he had in the house ; only he asked to have 
returned him a copy of a book of conjurations that 
Mocenigo had found among his written papers and had 
appropriated. To explain his delay in accusing Bruno, 
Mocenigo professed not to have been able to get enough 
against the latter until he had the philosopher in his 
own house two months earlier (viz. in March), " and 
then I wished to get the good of him, and by the steps 
I took I was able to assure myself that he would not 
leave without telling me of it. All the time I -promised 
myself to bring the matter before the censorship of the 
Holy Office." These denouncements were confirmed on 
oath by Mocenigo, whose age is given at thirty-four 
years, so that the excuse of youth falls from him. The 
following Tuesday the Holy Tribunal met to consider The Vt- 
the case. It consisted, in Venice, of the Papal Nuncio "^unai. 
(Ludovico Taberna), the Patriarch of Venice (Lorenzo 
Priuli), 1 the Father Inquisitor (John Gabrielli of Saluzzo, 

1 Ambassador in Paris during Bruno s first visit (1582). 




First ex- 
of Bruno. 

de Salutiis}? along with three assessors or representatives 
of the State (Savii all" Eresia], one of whom was always 
present, with the right of suspending the meeting if he 
thought proper : at the present time the three were 
Aloysius Fuscari, Sebastian Barbadico, and Tomaso 
Morosini. On this day the evidence of Ciotto and 
Bertano, the booksellers who had known Bruno at 
Frankfort as well as at Venice (Bertano was also at 
Zurich), was taken ; it was in the main favourable, 
only Bertano recalled the prior of the Carmelite monas 
tery at Frankfort having said of Bruno that he spent 
most of his time in writing, and went about dreaming: 

O O 

dreams and meditating new things, that he had a fine 
mind and knowledge of letters, and was a universal 
man, but that he had no religion so far as the prior 
knew, and he quoted a saying of Bruno s to the effect 
that the apostles did not know everything, and that he 
had the mind, if he wished, to make all the world of 
one religion ; while Ciotto reported the common belief 
in Frankfort that Bruno was a man of no religion. 

The prisoner himself was then brought forward 
" A man of ordinary stature, with chestnut-brown 
beard, of the age and appearance of forty years " ; 
Ciotto, too, described him as a slender man of small 
stature, with a small dark beard, about forty years of 
age. Bruno of his own accord, before a question was 
put, professed his readiness to speak the truth ; he had 
several times had the threat made to him of being 


brought before the Holy Office (viz. by Mocenigo), 
but had always treated it as a jest, because he was quite 
ready to give an account of himself. This he proceeded 
to do. The biographical part of his account has been 
embodied in the preceding pages. 

1 The Nuncio was sometimes represented by his auditor, the Patriarch by his vicar. 


On the 29th Mocenigo made another deposition, Third depo- 
the result of further reflections, at the request of the M onigo. 
Father Inquisitor, on the utterances of Bruno against 
the Catholic faith. Bruno had said that the Catholics 
did not act on the model of the apostles, who taught 
by example and good deeds, converting through love, 
not force ; that he preferred the Catholic religion to 
others, but it also stood in great need of reform ; that 
he hoped great things from the King of Navarre ; that 
it was a mistake to allow the friars to remain so rich 
(in Venice) : they should do as in France, where the 
nobles enjoyed the revenues of the monasteries, the 
friars living on soup, as befitted such "asses." This 
was a powerful stroke of diplomacy on Mocenigo s part. 
It was also hinted that Bruno s life was not pure, that 
he said the Church erred in making a sin of what was 
of great service in nature, and of what he (Bruno) 
regarded as a high merit. 

Next day (Saturday) Bruno continued his account 
of his life, the first note of defence being struck in an 
appeal to the famous doctrine of the " twofold truth." The two- 

r r . j T j * c truth. 

" Some of the works composed by me and printed 1 do 
not approve, because I spoke and discoursed too much 
as a philosopher rather than as an honest l man and 
good Christian, and in particular I know that in some 
of these works I taught and believed on philosophic 
grounds what ought to have been referred to the 
potency, wisdom, and goodness of God, according to 
the Christian faith, basing my doctrine on sense and 
reason, and not upon faith." On Tuesday, June 2, a 
deposition was read from Fra Domenico da Nocera Fra DO- 

i j i J C menico. 

confirming Bruno s appeal to him, and his desire for 
the favour of the Pope and a reconciliation with the 

1 i.e. orthodox, right-thinking. 


Church, so that he might be able to live quietly in 
Rome. The prisoner was then cross-examined, and 
submitted a list of his works, published and unpublished. 
In these he claimed to have spoken always " philo 
sophically, and according to the light of nature, having 
no special regard to what ought to be believed accord 
ing to the faith : his intention had been not to impugn 

o l inT 1 "" re % ion hut onl y to exalt philosophy, although many 
theological impieties might have been uttered on the strength of 
his natural light. Directly he had taught nothing con 
trary to the Christian Catholic religion ; thus in Paris 
he had been allowed to vindicate the articles against the 
Peripatetics and others, by natural principles, without 
prejudice to the truth according to the light of the 
taith : indirectly, Aristotle s and Plato s works were as 
contrary, indeed much more contrary, to the faith than 
the articles philosophically propounded and defended 
by him." He proceeded to give an admirable state 
ment of his " philosophical " creed which might have 
fired the hearts of his judges : " I believe in an infinite 
universe, the effect of the infinite divine potency, be 
cause it has seemed to me unworthy of the divine 
goodness and power to create a finite world, when able 
to produce besides it another and others infinite : so 
that I have declared that there are endless particular 
worlds similar to this of the Earth ; with Pythagoras I 
regard it as a star, and similar to it are the moon, the 
planets, and other stars, which are infinite, and all these 
bodies are worlds, and without number, constituting 
the infinite all (universita) in an infinite space ; while 
the latter is called the infinite universe, in which are 
innumerable worlds ; so that there are two kinds of 
infinity, one in the magnitude of the universe, the other 
in the multitude of worlds, by which indirectly the 


truth according to the faith may be impugned. In this 
universe I place a universal providence, in virtue of 
which everything lives, grows, moves, and comes to and 
abides in its perfection. It is present in two fashions : 
the one is that in which the spirit is present in the body, 
wholly in the whole, and wholly in any part of the 
whole, and that I call nature, the shadow, the footprint 
of divinity ; the other is the ineffable way in which God 
by essence, presence and power, is in all and above all, 
not as part, not as spirit or life, but in an inexplicable 
way. Then in the divinity, I regard all attributes as 
being one and the same thing. With theologians and 

o o o 

the greatest philosophers I assume three attributes 
power, wisdom, and goodness, or mind, understanding, 
and love ; through these, things have, first, existence by 
reason of mind ; then an ordered and distinct existence 
by reason of understanding ; third, concord and sym 
metry by reason of love. Distinction in divinity is thus 
posited by way of reason, not of substantial truth." 
God in Himself is one ; but three aspects of this unity 
may be distinguished, Mind (Will or Force or Power), 
Understanding (Knowledge, the Word), and Love or 
Soul. These three aspects correspond, of course, to the 
three Persons of the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and 
the Holy Spirit respectively. Bruno confesses, however, 
to have doubted, from the philosophic point of view, 
the becoming flesh of the Understanding or Word of 
God, although he did not remember giving definite 
expression to this doubt ; and as to the Spirit, he did 
not think of it as a person, but rather as the soul or life 
in the universe. 1 " From the Spirit, the life of the 
universe, springs, in my philosophy, the life and soul 

1 Bruno refers to the Pythagorean doctrine, quoting the JEneid, vi. 724 ft". : Prin- 
ciftio cxlum . . . mens apitaf molem. 

L o 


of everything that has soul and life ; and I regard it 
as immortal, as also bodies in substance are immortal, 
death being nothing but division and congregation : as 

o o o o 

the Preacher says, The thing that hath been it is that 
which shall be, and that which is done is that which 
shall be done ; and there is no new thing under 
the sun. 

Bruno confessed to have doubted the application of 
the word " persons " to these distinctions within the 
Godhead, since his eighteenth year ; but he had read in 
St. Augustine that it was not an old term, but new at 
that time. To none of his doubts as to the distinction 
of persons or the Incarnation had he ever knowingly 
given expression, except in quoting others, Arius, 
Gabellius, and the like. . . . On the same day, in his 
prison-house, he was further examined, and repeated 
that whatever he had written or said contrary to the 
Catholic faith was not intended as direct impugnment 
of the faith, but was based on philosophic grounds or 
on the authority of heretics ; he made clearer also his 
reason for doubting the applicability of the term 
" persons " to the distinctions in the Godhead, quoting 
Augustine s words, " Cum formidine proferimus hoc nomen 
personae, quando loquimur de divinis, et necessitate coacti 
utimur." Especially as to the divinity of Christ he 
had been unable to understand how there could be any 
such relation between the infinite, divine substance, and 
the human, finite, as between any other two things, 
soul and body, for example, which may subsist together 
as one reality, but he had only hesitated as to the in 
effable manner of the Incarnation, and not as to the 
authority of the Holy Scriptures which says " The 
Word was made flesh." Divinity could not be held, 
theologically speaking, to be along with humanity in 


any other fashion than by way of assistentia (i.e. 
temporary influence or presence), but he did not infer 
anything from this contrary to the divinity of Christ, or 
of the supposed Divine Being that is called Christ ; the 
miracles of Christ he had always held to be divine, true, 
and real not apparent miracles ; while the miracles 
of others were only in virtue of Christ : as to the 
sacrifice of the Holy Mass and the Transubstantiation 
of the flesh and blood of Christ he had always held 
with the Church : he had not attended Mass because 
of his excommunication, but had been to Vespers and 
to preachings in the Churches : in his dealings with 
heretics, he had always treated of matters philosophical, 
and had never allowed anything to escape him that was 
contrary to the Catholic Doctrine, and for that reason 
Calvinists and Lutherans had always thought of him as 
having no religion, because he did not entangle himself 
with theirs, and had been in many parts without having 
communicated, or accepted the religion of any of them. 
Some of the grosser charges of Mocenigo were read to 
him, which he strenuously denied, and " as he spoke," 
says the faithful record, " he grew exceedingly sorrow 
ful," marvelling that such things could be imputed to 
him. More strenuous grew his assertion of his 
orthodoxy as to the person of Christ, the Virgin 
Motherhood, the Sacrament of Repentance ; he spoke 
of his repeated efforts to obtain absolution, how for his 
sins he had always asked pardon of God, and would 
also willingly have confessed himself had he been 
able, because he had never doubted of this sacrament 
(or of any of the others), being firmly convinced that 
impenitent sinners were condemned and that hell was 
their portion. Heretic theologians, Melanchthon, 
Luther, Calvin and others, he condemned and despised, 


and had read their books from curiosity merely, although 
there were others, as those of Raymond Lully, which 
he had kept by him because they treated of matters 
Aquinas, philosophical. Saint Thomas Aquinas, on the other 
hand, he had always esteemed and loved as his own 
soul ; had his writings always by him, read, studied, and 
pondered over them ; and had spoken of Aquinas in 
one of his works as " The Honour and Light of all 
the race of theologians, and of Peripatetics among 
philosophers." When he had spoken of good works 
as necessary for salvation, he had in his mind not 
Catholicism, but " the reformed religion, which is in 
fact deformed in the extreme." One by one Mocenigo s 
charges were read, and denied, except that as to his 
contrasting the apostles method of spreading the Gospel 
with that of the Catholic Church, this charge he evaded. 
When the grossest of all, however, was read, alleging 
him to have said the apparent miracles of Christ and 
the apostles were due to the black art, and that he 
himself could equally well do them all he could not 
restrain himself; "raising both hands, and crying, 
What is this ? Who has invented these devilries ? I 
never said such a thing, it never entered my imagi 
nation ; oh God ! what is this ? I would rather be dead 
than that such a thing should have been uttered by 
me ! His references to women he admitted an 
error, but they had been spoken in lightness amid 
company and during talk of things " otiose and 
mundane." Threatened with extreme measures if he 
refused to confess his errors with respect to the Church, 
Bruno promised to make a greater effort to recall all 
he had said and done against the Christian and Catholic 
faith, protested the sincerity of all he said, and was left 

1 De Monade (Of. Lat. i. 2. p. 415). 


in peace for a time. This interview took place in the 
prison of the Inquisition. 

On the following day in the same place the exam 
ination was continued his neglect of Holy Days and 
Fastings in England and Germany ; his attendance at 
heretic preachings (although he emphatically denied 
that he ever partook of the communion in any 
Protestant church) ; his doubts concerning the Incarna 
tion, the Miracles, the Sacraments ; his familiarity with 
magical arts ; his praise of heretics and heretic Princes, 
these were some of the many points of indictment 
which he had to face. The Book of Conjurations, 
and others like it, he professed to have had only out of 
curiosity, although he despised and discredited sorcery ; 
but he had wished to study the divining art, and 
especially the divinatory (prophetic) side of astrology, 
merely out of scientific interest, and therefore had 
such books by him. Heretics he had praised, only for 
the moral virtues they had showed, or from convention 
(as in the case of Queen Elizabeth). The course of his 
examination was making clear to Bruno at last in how 
great danger he really stood ; and on this day he made, 
probably in hope of immediate release, a formal and 
solemn abjuration of all the errors he had ever 
committed pertaining to the Catholic life and profession, 
all the heresies he had believed and the doubts he had 
permitted himself to hold about the Catholic Faith or the 
decrees of the Church ; and prayed that the Holy Tribunal 
would receive him into the bosom of the Holy Church, 
provide him with remedies proper to his salvation, and 
show mercy upon him. 

The earlier processes against him at Naples and at 
Rome were, however, recalled to mind ; and on the 
following day he was again questioned as to his 



familiarity with the magic arts. Three weeks later 
Morosini was examined and Ciotto re-examined ; in 
both cases the evidence was wholly in Bruno s favour. 
3 o. Then a long interval elapsed. It was not till the 3Oth 
of July that the case was again taken up. 1 Bruno had 
nothing to add to his defence, except his constant desire 
to enter the Church, if he could only do so without 
undergoing the bondage of monkhood again. Worn 
out by anxiety, and possibly by torture, he humbled 
himself before his judges: kneeling, he asked pardon of 
God and of his judges for all the errors he had committed, 
and offered himself as prepared for any penance they 
might lay upon him. He hoped his chastisement might 
exceed rather in gravity than in publicity, whereby 
dishonour might be cast upon the sacred habit of the 
Order which he had borne ; and if by the mercy of God 
and of " their illustrious lordships," his life should be 
granted him, he promised to make amends for the 
scandal he had created by equally great edification. 


This closed the acts of the process so far as the 
Venetian tribunal was concerned. The " Sacred Con 
gregation of the Supreme Tribunal of the Holy Office," 
at Rome, was eager to secure the distinguished heretic for 
itself, and on the I2th of September the Cardinal San 
Severina wrote to this effect ; the Venetian tribunal, 
on the iyth, gave orders that Bruno be sent as soon as 
possible to the Governor of Ancona, who would see to 
his further custody to Rome. On the 28th this 
decision was reported to the Doge and Council of 
Venice by the Vicar of the Patriarch (the Father 

1 Doc. 17. 


Inquisitor and Thomas Morosini being present), 
with an account of the charges against Bruno, and he 
added, that they did not wish to act without first 
informing the College (the Doge and Senators), so that 
they might give what order they thought fit, and the 
tribunal would wait to know what reply should be 
made to Rome ; but he begged for expedition, since 
there was at that very time an opportunity of sending 
the prisoner in security ; to all which the Senate 
promised to give due consideration. On the same day 
the Father Inquisitor returned, after dinner, to learn the 
decision of the Signers, adding that there was a vessel at 
hand, ready to set out. The State was not so willing, 
however, to allow the Church to have its way, and it 
was replied "that the matter being of moment, and 
deserving consideration, and the occupations of the 
State being many and weighty, they could not at that 
time come to a decision, and his Reverence might for 
the present let the vessel sail." On the 3rd of October 
they wrote to their ambassador (Donato) at Rome, 
that the request had been refused, on the ground that it 
meant an infringement of the rights of the Venetian 
tribunal and a menace for the future to their subjects. 
Nearly three months elapsed before any further steps 
were taken. On the 2 2nd December the Papal Nuncio Dec. 
appeared before the College pressing them to deal with 
the Friar Giordano Bruno, described as a publicly 
known Arch-heretic, whom the Pope desired to have at 
Rome, in order to bring to an end the process that was 
begun against him in the Holy Inquisition, and their 
serenities were begged to permit his being carried to 
Rome, that justice might be done. His Holiness, the 
Pope, had already, in the interval, impressed his desire 
upon the minds of the ambassadors at Rome. On the 


procurator, Donate, who had meanwhile returned from 
Rome, pressing the unconstitutional nature of the act, 
the Nuncio pointed out that Bruno was a Neapolitan, 
not a subject of the Venetian Republic at all ; that there 
were earlier unfinished processes against him both in 
Naples and in Rome ; and that in similar cases the 
accused had been sent to the chief tribunal at Rome. 
The Senate agreed to consider the matter, and expressed 
their desire to give every possible satisfaction to his 

[.-inuary 7, On the jth of January, their procurator, Contarini, 
reported on Bruno to the College that " his faults were 
extremely grave in respect of heresies, although in 
other respects one of the most excellent and rarest 
natures, and of exquisite learning and knowledge " ; 
but, since the case was begun at Naples and Rome, was 
one of extraordinary gravity, and Bruno a stranger, 
not a subject, he thought it might be convenient to 
satisfy his Holiness, as had been done before at times 
in similar cases. He also hinted that Bruno himself, 
on being informed that his case was to be brought to 
a speedy conclusion, had said he would send a writing 
in which he was to ask to be remitted to Rome, but 
that this might have been intended merely to put off 
time. His report he desired to have kept secret, both 
for public and for private reasons. 1 It was successful 
in its aim, for on the yth of January it was decided 
that " to gratify the Pope, the said Giordano Bruno 
be remitted to the Tribunal of the Inquisition at Rome, 
being consigned to Monsignor the Nuncio that he may 
be sent in what custody and by what means his Reverend 
Lordship thinks best ; that the Nuncio be notified of 
this, and that our ambassador at Rome be also advised 

1 Doc. 24. Venetian State Archives. 


thereof to represent it to his Holiness as a mark of 
the continued readiness of the Republic to do what 
is pleasing to him." 1 The ambassador, Paruta, was 
informed of the decision, and asked to present it to the 
Pope as proceeding, in the words of the letter, " from 
our reverend and filial regard for his Holiness, with 
whom you should condole in our name on his indis 
position ; and if on the arrival of these presents he is 
in good health, as with the grace of God we hope, 
you shall congratulate him thereupon." His Holiness, 
on Paruta s informing him of the decision, was highly 
gratified, and replied with " courteous and kindly 
words, saying how greatly he desired to remain always 
in harmony with the Republic, and how he hoped it 
might not give him bones that were very hard to gnaw, 
in case others should cast up to him that he yielded 
overmuch to the affection he bore it." 1 Clearly Venice 
had no desire to quarrel with the Papal Government 
just at that time, and the unfortunate Bruno was made 
a political sacrifice. The persistency of the Pope s 
representative at Venice in demanding Bruno s trans 
ference to Rome, and the Pope s evident relief when 
Venice yielded, show how important the death or com 
plete recantation of Bruno had come to be thought by 
the Catholic party. 

On the 2 yth of February 1593 Bruno entered the 
prison of the Inquisition at Rome. 3 


Bruno s behaviour before the Venetian tribunal has 
been regarded as a signal blot upon his character. In 

1 Doc. 25. State Archives. 
IJ Docs. 26, 27. 3 Roman Documents, III. 


the course of his cross-examination he entirely changed 
his attitude, which was at first one of defiant self- 
confidence, open confession of his (philosophic) differ 
ences from the Church, and of indirect attacks upon 
the faith in his writings ; insistence upon his right to 
use "the natural light" of sense and reason, so long 
as the doctrines of the Church were accepted by way 
of faith. Later he passed from this attitude to one of 
anxious and angry denial of all charges of heterodoxy, 
of trafficking with heretics, and the like ; and finally to 
one of almost cringing submission and professed readi 
ness to undergo any punishment for his misdeeds. It 
is possible that he began by overrating the tolerance 
of the Venetian Republic. In Morosini s circle, of 
which Fra Paolo Sarpi was afterwards a member, he 
had heard enlightened talk and free criticism of the 
Church, and especially of Rome. One of the reputed 
sayings of Morosini, " we were born Venetians before 
we became Christians," makes one hesitate to accept as 
quite honest his evidence before the tribunal. But 
Bruno s trial occurred at a time when tolerance had 
given way to diplomacy. Had Bruno been a Venetian 
or of another nationality the result would have been 
different. They had adopted a policy of friendship 
towards the Papal government, and in consequence 
dealt during that period much more severely with 
heretical doctrine than with looseness of life. Bruno 
may have discovered this in the course of his trial, and 
changed his position in order to save his life. Sigwart 
comes to the conclusion that " it is impossible to believe 
in his entire genuineness and truthfulness ; it is clear 
that he was now trying to save himself and escape coh- 
demnation by submission." Numberless quotations 
might be made from his writings which give the lie 


to his denials before the tribunal, and his wonderful 
memory could not have allowed them to slip from his 
mind. However, there is this to be said, that Bruno 
had never regarded himself as anything but a Catholic ; 
that his criticisms of that Church were suggestions of 
reform from within rather than attacks from without ; 
that he had always retained an instinctive dislike both 
of Calvinism and of Lutheranism, in spite of his 
exaggerated but conventional praises of Luther at 
Wittenberg ; that he had never formally compared his 
philosophy with his traditional faith, but rather laid that 
faith aside and worked as a philosopher merely : hence 
his reputation in Germany as a man of no religion. 
When he first became aware that he was in danger of 
losing life or at least liberty, and his dream of a quiet 
retirement with freedom of work in Italy began to fade, 
he must have lost his centre of judgment, and had 
difficulty in estimating his own past doings and sayings 
from the new standpoint. It would be unjust to say 
there was the smallest element of hypocrisy in his 
submission, or of deceit in his denial of guilt. And in 
any case, whatever errors he committed before the 
Venetian tribunal were amply amended by his behaviour 
before the Roman. 1 One thing is certain : he never 
either then or afterwards recanted or in any sense with 
drew a single proposition belonging to his philosophical 

To Rome there went with him, in all probability, 
copies of the denunciations and evidence given at 
Venice, the works which Mocenigo had marked, and 
lists of all his works, including that given by himself, 

1 It must not be left out of mind that documents have occasionally been tampered 
with, and statements put into the mouths of witnesses which are in substance false, 
as Fiorentino hints concerning these reports of Bruno s trial. But there is no special 
reason for doubt here. 


which would be valuable could it now be found. From 
January 16, 1593 to January 14, 1599 there is 
absolute silence concerning Bruno, so far as discovered 
documents go. In 1849 an opportunity was obtained 
of studying the archives of the Vatican, but the student 
did not pass beyond November 1598 (beginning from 
February 1600), before the opportunity was over. 1 The 
earliest of these records of Bruno is, as stated above, 
of January 14, 1599. To the congregation (of the 
Holy Office) "there were read eight heretical pro 
positions, taken from the works of Fra Giordano 
Bruno of Nola, apostate of the order of Preaching 
Friars, imprisoned in the prison of the Holy Office, and 
from the process against him, by the Reverend Fathers 
Commissario and Bellarmino. It was decided that 
selected propositions be read to him, in order to 
determine whether he was willing to abjure them as 
heretical. Other heretical propositions are to be looked 
for in the process and in the books. 

What had happened all these years ? Why was 
Bruno s life spared so Jong ? This unusual clemency 
on the part of the Inquisition points to a great difference 
in^ their estimate of Bruno s importance from their view 
of that of other heretics. In a list of twenty-one prisoners 
of the Inquisition made on the 5th of April 1599, only 
one besides Bruno had been for more than a year in 
their hands ; the duration of imprisonment for the 
others could be counted by months or days. As a 
general rule they were not slow in striking. Among 
the reasons that have been suggested is the time 
required to go over the four processes which had already 
been drawn up against Bruno, if the documents were 
extant, and to obtain and read his books and manu- 

1 It is officially stated that there are no further documents. 


scripts. This may be dismissed at once ; Bruno s 
books could not be scarce then, although they became 
so later, and it could not require six years to find 
enough material to condemn him if that were desired. 
Another suggestion is that Bruno was a Dominican, and 
the whole order was concerned in procuring his 
recantation, rather than have the scandal which his 
death in apostasy would cause. The historians of the 
order afterwards denied that Bruno, if really put to death, 
had been one of their order " Had he been one of us he 
would have remained with us et convictu et sensibus." 
More probable is the idea that Pope Clement had some 
favour for Bruno, who had intended to dedicate a book 
to him, and whose skilful pen and biting tongue he 
hoped to win over to the side of the Church. The book 
on the Seven Liberal Arts may have been actually com 
pleted, and may have presented a modus vivendi between 
religious authority and philosophic freedom, as Brunn- 
hofer suggests. If the hope of winning him over was 
really held, it is not likely that they refrained in his 
case, any more than in Campanella s, from the use of 

Bellarmino, a Jesuit, to whom along with Com- 
missario the study of Bruno s works and of the processes 
had been entrusted, was one of the most learned pre r 
lates of the day, a keen and ready controversialist, in 
spite of his reputed love of peace, and a skilful writer 
of many apologetic and polemical works. Beneath the 
surface of enlightenment there lay hidden a nature of 
intense bigotry : it was he who decided that Coper- 
nicanism was a heresy ; he played a part later in the 
process against Galilei, and in the attack upon Fra Paolo 
Sarpi ; through his agency the Platonist Patrizzi was 

1 Wagner s introduction to Bruno s Opere Italianc, p. 7. 


induced to retract his heresies, and his works were 
placed along with those of Telesius, the apostle of 
Naturalism, upon the index. 

February 4 , On the 4th of February the congregation again 
considered Bruno s case, he having in the interval made 
some protest against the eight propositions selected. 
His Holiness decreed that it should be intimated to 
him by the Reverend Fathers BeJlarmino and Com- 
missario, " that the propositions are heretical, and not 
only now or lately declared heretical, but according to 
the most ancient Fathers of the Church and the 
Apostolic See. If he shall admit them as such, it is 
well, but if not, a term of forty days shall be set him." 
What were the eight propositions ? It is of course 
almost impossible to say, but probably Tocco l is right 
in suggesting that they were neither any of those already 
withdrawn in Venice (as held " philosophically," but 
not theologically), nor any of the charges of Mocenigo 
which Bruno had so vigorously denied, but actual 
admissions common to his works and to the confessions 
he had made at Venice for example, propositions as to 
(i) the distinction of persons in God ; (2) the Incar 
nation of the Word ; (3) the nature of the Holy Spirit ; 
(4) the Divinity of Christ ; (5,6, and 7) the necessity, 
eternity, and infinity of Nature ; (8) the Transmigra 
tion of Souls. It must have been in the last four of 
these, or some similar propositions, that Bruno stood 
fast by his new faith. 

1 Confcrenxa, p. 86. 



He was granted more than forty days, however, or December 
the period was renewed, for it was not until the 2ist of " 
December of that year that the patience or perse 
verance of the Inquisition began to be exhausted. On 
that date the next on which there is any record of 
Bruno the congregation again reopened the case. In 
a rough copy of the report which has been found 
Bruno is quoted as saying, " that he neither ought nor 
will recant, that he has nothing to recant, no matter 
for recantation, does not know what he ought to 
recant." In the fair copy the names of the members 
of the tribunal are given. At their head was Cardinal 
Madruzzi, and among them were the fanatical San 
Severin, embittered by his failure to secure the Papacy 
(he had gone so far as to choose his name Clement 
when his rival was elected in 1592, and became 
Clement VIII.), the man who figures in history as 
having declared St. Bartholomew s " a glorious day, a 
day of joy for Catholics " ; the ascetic Sfondrati ; the 
intolerant Borghese, afterwards Pope Paul V. ; and the 
learned Bellarmino. After hearing Bruno on his 
defence, it was decided among them that Hippolyte 
Maria, general of the Dominican order, and Paul of 
Mirandula, their vicar, " should deal with Bruno, show 
him what had to be abjured, that he might confess his 
errors, amend his ways, and agree to abjure ; and should 
try to bring him to the point as soon as possible." 
Bruno, however, as they reported, stood firm, denying 
that he had made any heretical statements, and insist 
ing that he had been misunderstood by the ministers of 
the Holy Office, and by his Holiness ; and at the 


same meeting (2oth of January 1600) a memorial from 
Bruno to the Pope, who was present, having been 
opened but not read, it was decreed " that further 
measures be proceeded to, servatis servandis, that 
sentence be passed, and that the said Friar Giordano be 
handed over to the secular authority." On the 8th of 
February this decision was carried into effect, and he 
was placed in the hands of the Governor of Rome, 
with the usual recommendation that he be punished 
"with as great clemency as possible, and without 
effusion of blood " the formula for burning at the 
stake. A witness of the passing of the sentence was 
Caspar Schopp, a youthful but none the less fanatical 
convert from the reformed religion to Catholicism. It 
was a year of jubilee in Rome. Pope Clement was 
possessed of great diplomatic gifts, he had gained the 
submission of Henry IV. of France, had united France 
again with Spain, and detached it from England, and 
had quieted or lulled numerous disputes within the 
Church itself. Rome was therefore crowded with 
visitors, more so than usual even in a year of jubilee. 
Of the distinguished foreigners paying their homage to 
Clement, Caspar Schopp was one ; facile of tongue as of 
pen, he quickly gained the Pope s favour, was made a 
knight of St. Peter, and a count of the Sacred Palace. 
This adept at coat-turning sent from Rome a letter 
to Conrad Rittershausen, which was for long the sole 
authority for Bruno s death, but was held by Catholic 
writers on Bruno to be a forgery, In the face of the 
solid arguments and evidence forthcoming, Catholic 
reviewers even at the present day deny that Bruno was 
put to death. It is quite needless at this date to enter 
into the question of the authenticity of the letter, its 
assertion of Bruno s punishment being the sole ground 


on which that was ever doubted. 1 We learn from it 
that Bruno was publicly reported in Rome to have 
been burned as a Lutheran ; and one of the aims of 
Schopp in writing which he did on the very day ot 
Bruno s death was to prove the falsity of this report. 
He had heard the sentence pronounced, and its damna 
tory clauses he gives as the following : (i) Bruno s 
early doubts concerning and ultimate denial of the 
Transubstantiation, and of the virgin conception ; (2) 
the publication in London of the Bestia Trionfanti, 
which was held to mean the Pope ; (3) the " horrible 
absurdities " taught in his Latin writings, such as 
the infinite number of worlds, the transmigration of 
souls, the lawfulness and utility of magic, the Holy 
Spirit described as merely the soul of the world, the 
eternity of the world, Moses spoken of as an Egyptian 
working his miracles by magic in which he excelled 
other Egyptians and as having invented the decalogue, 
the Holy Scriptures a fable, the salvation of the devil, the 
Hebrews alone descended from Adam and Eve, other 
peoples from the men created the previous day ; Christ 
not God, but an illustrious magician, who deceived 
men, and on that account was properly hanged (im- 
piccatd) and not crucified ; the prophets and apostles 
corrupt men, magicians, who were for the most part 
hanged. " In fine, I should never have done were I to 
pass in review all the monstrosities he has advanced, 
whether in his books or by word of mouth. In one 
word, there is not an error of the pagan philosophers 
or of our heretics, ancient or modern, that he did not 
sustain." The delay at Rome, it is suggested, was 
due to Bruno s constant promises to retract, but he was 

1 For the part of this letter relative to Bruno, i>. Bartholmess (with French trans 
lation), Berti and Frith. 


only putting off his judges, and the duration of his 
imprisonment is given (officially r) at " about two 
years." It is clear that on the occasion of the sentence 
being read the denouncements of Mocenigo, as well as 
all later evidences dragged from Bruno s own lips, or 
picked up from his books, were recited for the benefit, 
presumably, of the visitors present. When the sentence 
was pronounced Bruno was degraded, excommunicated, 
and handed over to the secular magistrates, as we have 
seen. The whole letter is redeemed by the reply of 
Bruno to his judges kv Greater perhaps is your fear in 
pronouncing my sentence than mine in hearing it." 
These strong words are almost the last we have of 
Bruno. At the stake he turned his eyes angrily away 
from the crucifix held before him. And so, adds 
Schopp, " he was burned and perished miserably, and is 
gone to tell, I suppose, in those other worlds of his 
fancy, how the blasphemous and impious are dealt with 
by the Romans ! It is pleasant to know that when 
Lord Digby was English ambassador to Spain he 
caused Gaspard Schopp to be horse-whipped. 1 For the 
degradation of Bruno, as we learn from the Register 
of the Depository - General of the Pontificate, two 
scudi of gold were paid to the Bishop of Sidonia. 
The memorable words he uttered at the time were 
reported by another than Schopp, the Count of Venti- 
miglia, who was a pupil of Bruno, and present at his 
death (perhaps at the sentence also) "You who 
sentence me are in greater fear than I who am con 
demned " ; and before his death Bruno recommended 

1 The letter was translated into English by La Roche, Memoirs of Literature, vol. 
ii., and by Toland, Misc. H^rks, vol. i. Schopp refers to Bruno s death in a work 
published in 16 n (i.e. several years before the letter itself was published) as having 
occurred ten years earlier (Berti, p. 10). 


Ventimiglia " to follow in his glorious footsteps, to 
avoid prejudices and errors." 

In the dvvisi and Ritorni of Rome, which repre 
sented, however meagrely, the newspapers of the time, 
two references to Bruno appeared, with short garbled 
accounts of him. In one he was spoken of as a Friar 
of S. Dominic, of Nola, burnt alive in the Campo di 
Fiori, an obstinate heretic, with his tongue tied, owing 
to the brutish words he uttered, refusing to listen to 
the comforters or others : in another he was reported 
as saying that he died a martyr, and willingly, and that 
his soul would ascend with the smoke to Paradise, " but 
now he knows whether he spoke the truth ! " The 
fullest account, however, of his death, and one which 
should put to rest all doubts on the subject, is in the 
reports of the Company of St. John the Beheaded. 
This company called also the Company of Mercy or 
Pity (della misericordia)vw& instituted for the pur 
pose of accompanying condemned heretics to the place 
of death, encouraging them to repent, to die with con 
trition for their sins. The priests bore tablets painted 
with images, which were presented to the condemned 
to kiss, from time to time, till the faggots were lit. 
Even the executioner was called to their aid occasion 
ally, and the cruellest methods adopted to produce at 
least the appearance of kissing, and so of repentance. 
In obstinate cases, on the other hand, the tongue was 
tied, so that the heretic could not speak to the people. 
When the sufferers repented before death the Company 
took note of their last wishes, and they were buried in 
the tombs of the Cloister donated for that purpose by 
Innocent VIII., but if they were impenitent no will was 
allowed, and the ashes were abandoned to the winds of 

1 Berti, p. 326, n. I. 


heaven. This must have happened in Bruno s case, for 
there is no mention of will or of burial in the report. 
Its date is Thursday, i6th February (an error for lyth), 
and it reads thus : l " At the second hour of the night 
it was intimated to the Company that an impenitent 
was to be executed in the morning ; so at the sixth hour 
the comforters and the chaplain met at St. Ursula, and 
went to the prison of the Tower of Nona. After the 
customary prayers in the chapel there was consigned to 
them the under-mentioned condemned to death, viz. 
Giordano, son of the late Giovanni Bruno, an Apostate 
Friar of Nola in the Kingdom, an impenitent heretic. 
With all charity our brethren exhorted him to repent, 
and there were called two Fathers of St. Dominic, two 
of the Society of Jesus, two of the new Church, and 
one of St. Jerome, who, with all affection and much 
learning, showed him his error, but he remained to the 
end in his accursed obstinacy, his brain and intellect 
seething with a thousand errors and vanities. So, per- 
severing in his obstinacy, he was led by the servants of 
justice to the Campo dei Fiori, there stripped, bound 
to a stake, and burnt alive, attended always by our 
Company chanting the litanies, the comforters exhort 
ing him up to the last point to abandon his obstinacy, 
but in it finally he ended his miserable, unhappy life." 

So Bruno passed away ; his ashes were scattered, his 
name almost forgotten. His death was the merest 
incident amid the great doings of the year of Jubilee. 
None of the many bishops and cardinals and dis 
tinguished visitors in Rome, with the single exception 
of Gaspard Schopp, makes any mention of the occur 
rence or of the man ; and Schopp did so only because 

1 Pognisi, Giordano Bruno e I Archi-vlo di San Giovanni Decollate, Torino, 1891, and 
vol. iii. of Of. Lat. introd. 


he wished to point a moral from the case. During 
his seven years imprisonment, Bruno had almost passed 
out of the short-lived memory of his fellowmen. 
Burnings of heretics were not infrequent spectacles, 
and required no special notice. Three years later 
(August 7, 1603) all his works were placed upon the 
Index, and consequently became rare. They were 
classed with other dangerous works on the black arts, 
and Bruno s name became one to avoid. 

This was the death which in happier days he had 
foreseen for himself should he ever enter Italy : 
a Torches, fifty or a hundred, will not fail him, even 
though the march be at mid-day, should it be his fate 
to die in Roman Catholic country." What were the 
real grounds on which his condemnation and sentence 
were founded ? The alleged grounds we have already 
seen, but they cannot have formed the actual motive 
of the Pope and the Inquisition. Neither at Venice 
nor in Rome can much weight have been laid upon the 
evidence of the weakling Mocenigo. The Cardinals 
cannot have imagined that Bruno would ever open his 
heart or even speak freely to so shallow a nature so 
utterly different in all things from himself. The mere 
fact of his having left his order was not enough, nor 
his refusal to return to it, nor were his heretical 
opinions defended as they might be, and as Aristotle s 
own teaching had to be defended in the Church, by 
the subterfuge of the twofold truth. Had his chief 
fault been, as some have thought, his praises of Elizabeth, 
Henry III., Henry of Navarre, Luther, Duke Julius, 
and other enemies, real or supposed, of the Church, 
he would not so long have occupied the prisons of 
the Inquisition. Probably his earliest biographer, 
Bartholmess, was right in suggesting that Bruno was 


regarded as a heresiarch he is several times so described 
in the documents the founder of a new sect, the 
leader of an incipient but dangerous crusade against 
the Church. It was as the apostle of a new religion, 
founded on a new intuition, a new conception of the 
universe, and of its relation to God, that Bruno died. 
Had he been won over to the side of the Church, his 
mind conquered and his spirit crushed by the long 
years of waiting, and possibly the days and nights of 
physical torture, it would have been a signal triumph 
for the papacy. But the heart which had trembled 
at the beginning, when the sudden gulf yawned before 
it, grew more and more steadfast as its trials increased. 
We can only re-echo Carriere s words, that in the soul 
of such a man, who after eight years confinement in 
the prisons of the Inquisition remained so firm, " the 
governing motives must have been an eternal and in 
violable impulse towards Truth, an unbending sense 
of right, an irrepressible and free enthusiasm." That 
for which he died was not any special cult or any 
special interpretation of Scripture or history, but a 
broad freedom of thought with the right of free inter 
pretation of history and of nature, which in his own 
case was founded upon a philosophy, one of the noblest 
that has been thought out by man. 

The fear of death was no part of this philosophy ; 
what we call death, it teaches, is a mere change of state, 
of " accidents " no real substance, such as the human 
spirit is, can ever die. One of the highest values of 
his philosophy he thought to be this, that it freed man 
from the fear of death, " which is worse than death 
itself." Strikingly apposite to his own fate is a 
passage from Ovid 1 that he quotes 

1 Metam. xv. 


O genus attonitum gelidae formidine mortis, 
Quid Styga, quid tenebras, et nomina vana timetis, 
Materiam vatum, falsique pericula mundi ? 
Corpora sive rogus flamma, seu tabe vetustas 
Abstulerit, mala posse pati non ulla putetis ; 
Morte carent animae domibus habitantque receptae. 

Bruno himself lived within the sphere of which he 
writes in the Spaccio, " surrounded by the impregnable 
wall of true philosophic contemplation, where the peace- 
fulness of life stands fortified and on high, where truth 
is open, where the necessity of the Eternity of all sub 
stantial things is clear, where nought is to be feared 
but to be deprived of human perfection and justice." 
His finest epitaph is to be found in his own words, " I 
have fought : that is much victory is in the hands of 
fate. Be that as it may with me, this at least future 
ages will not deny of me, be the victor who may, 
that I did not fear to die, yielded to none of my 
fellows in constancy, and preferred a spirited death to a 
cowardly life." 

No end in history is more tragic, when looked at in 
all its circumstances, than that of Giordano Bruno. 
First a life of endless, unresting struggle, striving 
through years of wandering, in many lands, to over 
come prejudice and outworn authority, to proclaim and 
urge on unwilling minds the splendid gospel which 
inspired himself, and by which for a brief time he may 
have thought to supplant the old ; now admired of 
kings, and sought after by the highest in the land, 
at another time a hunted pedlar of literary wares ; then 
eight years in darkness from the world, with shame or 
death to choose for release. The choice made for the 
nobler end, the mockeries of religion he had detested 
and reviled pursued him to the end to the very stake ; 
and the funeral pyre of this martyr for liberty of 


thought, for the new light of science, became a spectacle 
for the gay and thoughtless sight-seers of the Roman 
Jubilee year, to all of whom, one sad disciple excepted, 
it was but another " damnable and obstinate heretic " 
who was on this earth, for that brief spell, foretasting 
his eternal doom. 


It is not easy to characterise so complex a personality 
as Bruno undoubtedly was. The fiery passionate blood 
of the south ran in his veins, the joy of a strong-flow 
ing life was in his heart and brain. A child of Nature, 
he was almost from the first, " cribbed, cabined, and 
confined " by the stone walls of the cloister, as his 
mind was hampered by the laws and dogmas of the 
Church. 1 From Nature herself he drew his first lessons. 
While his fellows taught that Nature was a thing of evil, 
he learnt to love her, and to turn to her rather than to 
the authority of man for instruction. He believed also, 
as very few of his age did, in the power of human 
thought to penetrate the secret nature of things, to 
reach even to the deepest and highest reality, so far 
as that can be known by another than itself. Trust 
ing to his own mind, to sense and reason, for his 
theory of the world, he found himself opposed in all 
essentials to the general thought of the time. 

His purpose from the first was to use his own eyes, 
to discover truth for himself, and to hold fast what 
ever seemed to be right, irrespective of the opinions 
of others. " From the beginning I was convinced 
of the vanity of the cry which summons us to close 
or lower the eyes that were given to us open and 

1 Cf. Her. Fur. 623. 2O ff. 


upward-looking. Seeing, I do not pretend not to 
see, nor fear to profess it openly ; and as there is con 
tinual war between light and darkness, knowledge and 
ignorance, everywhere have I met with hatred, abuse, 
clamour, insult (ay, not without risk to my life) from 
the brute and stupid multitude ; but guided by the hand 
of truth and the divine light, I have overcome it." 
Not that he really formed his theory by induction from 
sense-data, or by deductive reasoning ; it was rather an 
inspiration, or an intuition, springing from his tempera 
ment, to which optimism was as necessary as pessimism 
repellent ; and there were numerous suggestions of it 
both in Bruno s immediate predecessors, Copernicus 
and the rest, and in earlier thinkers. Bruno himself 
found it, as he thought, in the more ancient pre- 
Aristotelian philosophies. But, however obtained, 
this philosophy satisfied even his boundless enthusiasm, 
and it became the chief motive of his life to convince 
others of its truth, inspire them with the same enthusi 
asm, and endow them with the joyous freedom of life 
of which it seemed to him to be the source. His 
philosophy, in other words, became his religion, his 
inward religion, Catholicism remaining a mere habit, 
a set of formulae to which he was indifferent, to most 
of which he was willing to subscribe because he had not 
questioned them. 

His perfect self-confidence, and belief in the power Authority. 
of human reason (especially his own reason) to penetrate 
the mysteries of things, was accompanied by contempt 
for the argument from authority in philosophy, con 
tempt for humility, submission, obedience in the 
speculative life. To believe with the many because 
they were many was the mark of a slave. Bruno, 
before Bacon, before Descartes, insisted on the need of 


first of all clearing the mind from all prejudices, all 
traditional beliefs that rested on authority alone, before 
attempting the pursuit of truth. They were impedi 
ments burdens that delayed or prevented the attain 
ment of the goal. The whole of the Cabala is a satire 
on the quietistic attitude, the standpoint of ignorant 
and ignoring faith, which regards sense and reason as 
alike misleading and unnecessary guides, for which 
science and philosophy are mere troublings of the still 
waters of life. " Oh, holy asinity " ! one of the sonnets 
begins, " oh, holy ignorance, holy folly and pious 
devotion, which alone makest souls so good that human 
wit and zeal can no further go ; strenuous watchful 
ness, in whatsoever art, or invention, or contemplation 
of the wise, arrives not to the heaven wherein thou 
buildest thy mansion. Of what avail is your study, ye 
curious ones, your desire to know how nature works, 
whether the stars are earth, or fire or sea ? Holy 
asinity for that cares not, but with folded hands and 
bended knees awaits from God its fate." l 

Having already that touch of vanity in his character 
which the possession of a quick mind among sluggards or 
dullards almost inevitably entails, he was thrown, by his 
attitude towards nature and the Church, more and more 
back upon himself. At every step he met with a leaden, 
uncomprehending, but dogged opposition, until he seemed 
to himself the one seeing man in a world of the blind. 
At times this belief was expressed only too emphatically ; 
the reader of Bruno must expect to find a passage in 
almost every work pointing out that that work is the 
best of its kind, and dispenses with all others on the 
subject ; while his opponents in any theory are bedaubed 
with epithets to which the amenities of modern party 

1 Lag. 564. 25. 


strife are politeness itself. 1 Boundless was his confidence 
in himself, in his power of discerning truth, and in his 
ability to overcome all difficulties in the way of its 
discovery. "Difficulty," he writes in the Cena, "is 
ordained to check poltroons. Things ordinary and 
easy are for the vulgar, for ordinary people. But rare, 
heroic, divine men pass along this way of difficulty, that 
necessity may be constrained to yield them the palm of 
immortality. Although it may not be possible to come 
so far as to gain the prize, run your race nevertheless, 
do your hardest in what is of so great importance, strive 
to your last breath. It is not only he who arrives 
at the goal that is praised, but also whoever dies no 
coward s or poltroon s death ; he casts the fault of his 
loss and of his death upon the back of fate, and shows 
the world that he has come to such an end by no defect 
of himself, but by error of fortune." 

His outward fortunes left Bruno indifferent ; it was 
the opposition to his philosophy that embittered him, 
and excited the magnificent invectives scattered every 
where through his works. Of his own mission Bruno 
had the highest conception : " The Nolan has set free 
the human mind, and its knowledge, that was shut up 
within the narrow prison-house of the atmosphere (the 
troubled air), whence it could only with difficulty, as 
through chinks, see the far distant stars ; its wings were 
clipped, that it might not fly and pass through the veil 
of clouds, and see that which is really to be found there. 
. . But he in the eye of sense and reason, with the 
key of unwearied inquiry, has opened those prison- 
doors of the truth which man might open, laid bare 
nature that was covered over and veiled from sight, 

1 E.g. cf. De Umiris, p. 10 ft., and Magi a Ma!/:., Of. Lot. iii. 5. 506. 
- Lag. 141. 5. 


given eyes to the moles, enlightened the blind . 
loosened the tongue of the mute, that could not and 
dared not express their inmost feelings." ] It was not 
to the many that he spoke, however ; there was little 
in his heart of that love for his fellowman that was so 
charming a trait in Spinoza, with all the latter s desire 
for solitude, and under all his persecutions. Bruno, 
whether a son of the people or not, had never the 
slightest respect for that body. We have already seen 
what opinion he formed of the English populace, 
and he held a similar view of the plebs in general 
- " Rogatus tumet, Puhatus rogat, Pugnis concisus 
adorat" he quotes (or misquotes) 2 concerning it. 
Distrust of the natural man he had imbibed along 
with the teaching of the Church, and doubt as to his 
capacity for receiving or understanding the truth. 
Those who have acquired the truth that he has to 
teach need not, he writes, communicate it to all, 
"unless they will see what swine can do with pearls, 
and will gather those fruits of their zeal and labour 
which usually spring from rash and foolish ignorance, 
together with presumption and incivility, its constant 
and trusty companions." Speaking of the doctrine of 
the necessity of all human events, as determined and 
foreseen by God, and its coincidence with true liberty, 
he shows how theologians and philosophers have held it, 
but have refrained from communicating it to the vulgar, 
by whom it could not be understood, who would use it 
as an excuse for giving rein to their passions. " Faith 
is required for the instruction of the plebs y that must 
be governed ; demonstration (truth) for the wise, the 
contemplative, that know how to govern themselves 
and others." So speculation as to the future life must 

1 Cena, Lag. 125. 12 ff. * Juvenal, i. 3. 300. Lag. 129. 7. <Lag. 318. 5. 


be kept from them, for it is "with the greatest difficulty 
that they can be restrained from vice and impelled to 
virtuous acts through their faith in eternal punishment : 
what would become of them if they were persuaded of 
some lighter condition regulating the rewards of heroic 
and humane deeds, the punishment of wickedness and 
sin?" 1 He was an "aristocrat of learning,"- only 
the wise should have the government of the world ; 
the people were unfit to judge either of truth or of 

Along with this distrust of the vulgar went a far Pedantry. 
more intense dislike of the kind of learning they 
admired, and of the type of scholar, the pedant, that 
most appealed to them. The minds of the vulgar, it 
seemed to him, were more readily turned by sophisms, 
by the appearances on the surface of things, than by the 
truth that is hidden in their substance, and is indeed 
their substance itself; 2 and the man too frequent in the 
Italian, and generally in the learned world of those days 
most apt to veil a real ignorance by a pretended 
knowledge, by a show of externals, by appeal to 
authorities with whom he had himself no acquaintance, 
was the pedant. Bruno himself was not without that 
touch of vanity which led him, like others, to mass 
together quotations and phrases from Latin and even 
from Greek writers ; to point an argument by forced 
analogies from classical mythology ; to heap up refer 
ences, in support of his theories, to the Neoplatonists, 
to the mystics, to the Cabbalah, to the older Greek 
philosophers: these adornments were quite in the fashion 
of his time, and looked at in that light they add to, 
rather than detract from, the peculiar charm and spirit 
of his writings. The true pedant such as Polihimnio 

1 Lag. 619. 20. Cf. also 700. 25, 717. 39. 2 Lag. 718. 26. 



in the Causa (who has been thought to have suggested 
Polonius in Hamlet}, Mamphurio in the Candelaio, 
Prudentio in the Cena is one that for style loves 
long words, learned phrases, irrespective of their con 
text ; who, under pretence of accuracy, delights in 
trifling, subtle distinctions, sows broadcast mythological 
or classical allusions without a hint of relevancy. His 
favourite hunting-ground is, however, philosophy, and 
it is to philosophy, according to Bruno, that the pedant 
has done greatest injury. One of the most vigorous 
descriptions of him which Bruno gives is in the Causa, 1 
where, no doubt, some of the actual writers of the time 
are satirised. Curiously, Ramus and Patrizzi, both 
reformers of philosophy, are mentioned as " arch- 
pedants"; but men have always criticised most bitterly 
those who stood nearest to themselves. 

Bruno regarded words as the servants of his pen, 
claimed, and indeed exercised almost too freely, the 
right of inventing new words for new things. Use 
and wont, he knew, determined the fate of words as of 
other things ; some which had fallen into decay would 
rise again, others now honoured would lapse from use. 
For the teaching of the philosophers of old their own 
old words were the clearest mirror, but for new theories 
new words might be sought from the readiest source : 
"grammarians are the servants of words, words are 
our servants ; it is for them to study the use to which 
we put our words." - 

1 Lag. 223. 14 ff., cf. 242. 35, an 1 De Minim-., bk. iii. i. 
" D( Minima, Op. Lat. i. 3, 135. 



For such coinage, as for illustrations to his theories, 
references to old authorities, material for his satire on 
pedants, as well as for more doubtful purposes,- 
mystical or magical formulas, or " proofs," his pro 
digious memory never left Bruno at a loss. But if this 
memory, in its tenacity, supplied him with powerful 
and ready arguments against his opponents in ^ their 
appeal to the authority of antiquity, it was also, in its 
fertility, the source of the chief defects of his writing, 
and perhaps also of his speaking. His imagination 
runs riot in the pursuit of allegories, metaphors, similes 
from mythology. Tiraboschi, the historian of Italian 
literature, denes "the most acute intelligence to 
penetrate into his system, the most patient of men to 
endure the reading of it." 

So far was this enormous mass of material from 
blocking up the spring of originality in his mind, 
however, that the ideas in which he may be said to 
have a anticipated " modern thought are innumerable. 
No doubt, in many cases, they came from the earlier 
Greek philosophers whom he chiefly studied ; but Bruno 
invariably gives them a connection with his own theory,^ 
such as precludes us from taking his restoration of 
them for a happy chance. Such ideas, for example, are 
those of the evolution or gradual transformation of 
lower organisms into higher (De Umbris, Int. 7), of 
the part played by the hand in the evolution of the 
human race (Cabala, L. 586. 35), of the gradual 
changes brought about on the surface of the earth, its 
seas, its islands, the configuration of the land, the 



climate of different countries, by the constant, if 
imperceptible, operation of natural causes (Cena, L. 190 
ff.) : of the true nature of mountains, which are only 
excrescences as compared with the real mountains, the 
larger continents that slope upwards from the sea (e.g. 
France) : of the true nature of comets, so far at least 
as that they are perfectly natural bodies allied to 
planets 1 (Infinit. L. 372 ; De Imm. iv. 9. 51); of the 
identity of the matter of heavenly bodies with that of 
the earth, the universality of movement (even the fixed 
stars move, cf. Infinit. , L. 350, 351, 400), the 
possibility (he said rather the certainty) of other worlds 
than our own being inhabited by beings similar to or 
more highly developed than ourselves (L. 360. 27). 
He " anticipated " also the idea of Lessing that myths 
may contain foreshado wings of truth, and that they 
should be interpreted not by their letter, as matters of 
fact, but by their spirit, as indications of higher " truths 
of reason." The Bible should be interpreted in the 
same way : as Spinoza afterwards taught, so Bruno 
held, that the Scriptures inculcated moral and practical 
truths, to which their seemingly historical statements 
were entirely subordinate. 

Add to this fermenting thought, power of memory, 
keenness and sureness of glance, and imaginative force, 
the fact that Bruno had a deeply poetic nature, fiery, 
vivid, passionate in defence of what seemed to him true, 
equally passionate in hatred of what seemed to him 
false, and the sources of his strength and weakness alike 
become clear. The Italian writings remain, in spite of 
their occasional obscurity, the most brilliant of philoso 
phical works in that language, while the Latin works 

1 In his De Orbitit Planttarum, iSoi, Hegel "demonstrated" that the number of 
planets could not exceed seven. Before it appeared, Piazzi had discovered Ceres. 

i HIS CREED 109 

are a monument of learning (too often misapplied or 
useless), of acute reasoning, and of poetic enthusiasm. 


Bruno was far from being what we should now Religion, 
call a Rationalist ; he felt that cold reason, mere 
human logic alone, could not fathom the deepest nature 
of things, which was God, but that this deepest 
nature of things was apart from conditions of time 
and space. Whatever occurred under these conditions, 
whatever fell within the actual world, he claimed 
for sense and reason, i.e. as a subject of natural explana 
tion, as accessible in all its aspects to human knowledge. 
There are thus two very distinct sides to Bruno s 
philosophical character : on the one side he is a fore 
runner of modern science, in his love of nature as 
a whole, in his desire to understand it, in his applica 
tion of purely " empirical " methods to its analysis. To 
this side belong his rejection of the orthodox dogmas 
concerning the Trinity, the Immaculate Conception, 
and the rest, his theory of an evolution of man, 
his idea of a natural history of religions, his entire 
rejection of authority however high as an argument 
for or against a theory or view of nature. His own 
religious creed was simple, and he believed it to be 
the essence of what was true in all the jarring sects 
that had separated man from man, nation from nation, 
and race from race " the law of love which springs 
not from the evil genius of any one race, but from 
God the father of all, and is in harmony with universal 
nature, which teaches a general love of man, that 
we should love our enemies even, should not remain 



Jike brutes or barbarians, but be transformed into the 
likeness of Him who makes His sun to rise upon 
the good and the bad, and pours the rain of His 
mercies upon the just and the unjust. This is the 
religion above controversy or dispute, which I observe 
from the belief of my own mind, and from the custom 
of my fatherland and my race." 1 On the other side, 
he had inherited the mysticism of the Neoplatonist 
school, or at least it called out a responsive echo from 
his mind so soon as he came under its influence. He 
was full of enthusiasm, as we shall find, for the divine 
in things, in us, in the world, in the universe a 
" God-intoxicated man " far more strikingly than the 
impassive Spinoza. It was because the Copernican 
theory fitted into his mystical thought of the One, 
as an identity of the infinitely small, the point, and 
the infinitely great, the broad, deep, immeasurable 
universe, that it appeared to him an inspiration of 
genius. Therefore he defended it, extended it further 
than its originator dared extend it, and finally died 
for it and for all that it meant to him. His belief 
in natural magic belongs again to this side, or rather 
to the influence of the one side of his nature upon 
the other ; owing to their essential unity in God, 
natural things have sympathies with one another and 
with human life, so that a change in one thing a stone, 
a tree may indirectly cause a corresponding change in 
another, a human being. It was characteristic of him 
that he sought to give to these beliefs which, be it 
remembered, were universal in his time a rational 
basis, a connection with his thought-system as a whole. 
The two sides or standpoints are never far apart 
in Bruno : it is often impossible to say to which a 

1 Art. Adv. Math. Efist. Ded. (i. 3. 4). 

i OPTIMISM 1 1 1 

given theory or mood should be attributed, but in 
his earlier life the mystical, in his later the naturalistic, 
or rationalist standpoint may be said to have pre 
dominated. It is with the more metaphysical attitude 
that a certain vein of optimism in Bruno s philosophy 
is connected, the familiar conception of evil, natural 
or moral, as necessary for the good of the whole, like 
the discords by which a harmony is heightened. No 
absolute evil, for the consistent Neoplatonist, can pos 
sibly exist in a world which flows from the divine and 
is an outpouring of His nature. But Bruno had little 
or nothing of the practical optimist in his own 
character ; whatever he thought to be evil, he fought 
against with all his might ; a victim of intolerance, he 
had himself no toleration for some points of view 
those, namely, which he felt might weaken the bonds of 
civil society and of human brotherhood. " Such evil 
teachers," he writes in the Sigillus (ii. 2. 182), "succeed 
ing time, and a world wise overlate in its own ill 


condition, will exterminate as the tares, canker-worms, 
locust plagues of their age nay, as scorpions and vipers." 
Bruno saw only too clearly the evils of the world, and 
of his age, from the greatest of which tyranny over 
the soul, and suppression of mental liberty he suffered 
in his own person ; and his life, as we have seen, was 
spent in a ceaseless, and for the time unavailing, 
struggle against them. But he never lost his faith 
in the ultimate victory of his own philosophy, based 
as it was upon his faith in the essential goodness, justice, 
and truth of the eternal source of things. As all 
things flow from, so all things tend to return to God. 

O O 

Philosophy goes further than to teach merely that 
pain and evil are not absolute facts, not grounded in 
the nature of things ; it also frees the believer from the 



burden they impose : " the practical test of a perfect 
philosophy is, when one by the height of his specula 
tion is so far withdrawn from bodily things as hardly 
to feel pain. And there is greater virtue, as we believe, 
in one who has come to such a point as not to feel 
pain at all than in another who feels it but resists. 
He who is more deeply moved by the thought of some 
other thing does not feel the pangs of death." ! 

Sig. Sig. (ii. 2. 192. 


I . Summa terminorum metapbysicorum ad capessendum Logicae et 
Philosophiae studium, ex Jordani Bruni Nolani Entis descensu manusc. 
excerpt a ; nunc primum luci commits a ; a Raphaele Eglino Iconio, 
Tigurino : Zurich, 1595. Reprinted in 1609 : Summa Terminorum 
Metaphysicorum, Jordani Bruni Nolani. Accessit eiusdem Praxis 
Des census seu Multiplicatio Entis ex Manuscript o per Raphaelum 
Eglinum Iconium Tigurinum in Acad. Marpurg. Profess. Theolog. cum 
supplemento Rodolphi Goclenii Senioris, Marburg, 1609.- 

Described by the editor, Eglin, who was with Bruno at Zurich, 
and afterwards became Professor of Theology at Marburg, as Bruno s 
" Metaphysical remains." It represents the fruit of the lectures 
given by Bruno at Zurich in I 59 1, 3 and is one of the earliest philo 
sophical dictionaries extant. It is on the model of the Fifth Book 
of Aristotle s Metaphysics, now known to have been intended by 
Aristotle as a separate work, but differs in its choice and arrange 
ment of the terms of philosophy which are discussed. The first 
part of the work, which was published by itself in Zurich, may 
best be described as a handbook to philosophy generally, the main 
reference being to Aristotle s system, as was natural : with it Bruno 
writes for the most part in agreement. The second part, however, 
which was not published until the Marburg Edition (p. 73 ff. of the 
State Edition), is an "application" of the several terms already 
defined to the Neoplatonist philosophy : in its first section (De Deo 
seu Mente] they are applied and illustrated by reference to God as 
the source of the world, of whom all things are emanations, in a 
graduated scale of being ; in the second (Intellectus seu Idea ] to the 
world of Ideas God in the world, the soul in all things and in 

1 Works published during Bruno s imprisonment, and posthumously. 
- Cf. Of. Lat. vol. i. pt. 4. Also in Gfrorer. 3 Cf. p. 67, 1. n. 


everything; and a third section (Amor seu pulchritude) should have 
followed, dealing with God as the end and goal of things, but is 
awanting. 1 The document on the Predicates of God which 
Mocenigo presented to the Court at Venice was probably the 
second part of the Summa, or perhaps only its first section (Brunn- 
hofer, p. 106). 

2. Artificium per or an di traditum a Jordano Bruno Nolano Italo, 
comrnunicatum a Jchar.. Henrico Alstedio. In gratiam eorum qui elo- 
qucntiae vim et rationem cognoscere cupiunt. Frankfort, 1612. (Also 
in Gfrorer, and State Edition, vol. ii. pt. 3, No. 3). A summary 
of, or a commentary on, the spurious Rhetoric of Aristotle (ad 
Alexandrum), with the addition of a second part by Bruno, on 
which he himself lays no great stress, on elocution or adornment ; 
he refers his readers, however, to the orators themselves for com 
plete instruction. It contains chiefly lists of heads of arguments 
and of synonyms for rhetorical use. Apparently the work is printed 
from notes of Bruno s lectures in Wittenberg (1587), which came 
into the hands of the editor, Alsted, in 1610. 

3. Lampas Triginta Statuarum. First published in the State 
Edition, vol. iii. pp. 1-258, from MSS. of the Noroff collection at 
Moscow. This is in the hand of Besler, Bruno s pupil and copyist, 
and was done at Padua in the autumn of I 591, although Besler had 
received the original, which he copied, in April 1590 at Helmstadt. 
Another MS. is in the Augustan Library, and is both more obviously 
correct and of earlier date than the copy of Besler (1587); in all 
probability the work was dictated by Bruno at Wittenberg, and is 
that referred to as Lampas Cabahstica in the letter of dedication pre 
fixed to the De Specierum Scrutinio (Prague, 1588), and as shortly 
to be published. 2 

It contains a finished study of philosophy from Bruno s stand 
point, arranged under thirty and more headings, "Types," "Statues 
and Images," " Fields," etc. Under each heading are thirty 
"articles," "conditions," "descriptions," "contemplations." For 

1 Brunnhofer (p. 81) suggests that the first part contains the exoteric, the second 
the esoteric teaching of Bruno. But as Tocco (Of ere Latine d: G. B., p. 136) 
rightly points out, some such knowledge of Aristotelian terms as that in Part i. 
would form a necessary preliminary to the study of philosophy in Bruno s time. He 
makes use of the Aristotelian terms to express ideas quite different from those of 

2 Op. Lot. ii. 2. 333. 


example, we have first the two triads Chaos, Orcus, Nox ; and 
Pater, Intellectus Primus, Lux typifying the lowest and the highest 
principles of things : the first three are Vacuum, Potency in 
Appetite, and Matter ; the second three Mind or Reason, Under 
standing or Soul, and Love or Spirit. At the close of the Statuae 
there follows the practical application of them to the scale of 
Nature the outflow of the highest towards the lowest, the gradual 
transition from lowest to highest ; an account of the thirty pre 
dicates of Substance and of " Nature " in the universal sense ; and a 
logical or methodological illustration of the uses of the Art under 
the headings of Definition, Verification, Demonstration. The 
general purpose of the whole is to give an instrument for discovery 
( Invention "} of truth, after the model of the Lullian Art, just as 
some of the earlier works (e.g. De Umbris ] contain a similar instru 
ment for remembering knowledge acquired. 1 Unfortunately the 
work is entirely marred by the artificial distinctions drawn, and the 
tying down (or expansion) of the ideas treated therein to the thirty 
fundamental notions and thirty applications of each. Thus subjects 
and predicates are thirty in number each, and the modes of pre 
dication are in classes of fifteen. It is impossible not to agree with 
Tocco s verdict, that " However fine the analysis employed in dis 
tinguishing the subtlest shades of concepts, however great the 
number of elevated philosophical thoughts scattered throughout, 
expounded with vigour and felicity of imagery, the tractate as a 
whole has little value, just as the ars inventiva itself has little 
more fit to blunt than to sharpen the inventive powers." One 
gladly re-echoes Bruno s words at the close : " Itaque gratias deo 
agentes, Artem Inventivam per triginta statuas perfecimus." 

4. Animadversiones circa Lampaaem Lullianam (State Edition, vol. 
ii. pt. 2). From the Augustan MSS., dated I3th March 1587. 
Notes dictated in Wittenberg, on the Lullian art as a universal 
instrument for the discovery of truth. 

5. Libri Pkysicorum Aristotelis, a clariss. Dn. D. "Jordano Bruno 
Nolano explanati. From two codices in the Erlangen Library, the 
second of which is in the hand of Besler, and was written, pre 
sumably, at Helmstadt. The earlier MS. in a German handwriting 
points to the commentaries having been dictated by Bruno during 

1 Vide Tocco, Ofere Inedite di G. B, Napoli, 1891. - Of. cit. p. 77. 


his stay at Wittenberg. 1 The books of Aristotle treated are the 
five books of the Physica, the De generatione et corruptions, the 
Meteorologica^ Book IV. There is an introduction on the methods 
of the sciences, and other matters, by Bruno himself; the remainder 
follows closely the text of Aristotle, except in the fourth and fifth 
books, where Bruno is much less exact. 

6. De Magia, ct Theses de Magia. The MS. of this work is in 
the Erlangen Codex, by Besler, and also in the Moscow (NorofF) 
collection, by the same hand ; the former is a copy of the latter, 
which was dictated by Bruno in the early part of 1590 at 

It deals with one of the three divisions of Magic, viz. Natural or 
Physical Magic (the others being Divine, Metaphysical or Super 
natural, and Mathematical that of symbols, numbers, etc.). 
Physical magic is shown to be a natural consequence, first, of the 
fact that the same soul, the soul of the world, is in all things, of 
which the individual finite soul of each thing is a temporary mode 
or phase ; hence all things are linked one with another, through 
their spiritual identity, in a bond of sympathy ; secondly, of the 
hierarchy of beings the principle that all finite things arc emana 
tions, in increasing degree of imperfection, from the Divine. The 
Theses represent a summary of the De Magia, and in the latter the 
headings of the former are referred to throughout, except in two 
episodes or excursus not strictly connected with natural magic (on 
spirit-charms and spirit-analogies) : the work is referred to in the 
De Minima, i. 3. 210 (re the magical influences of bodies newly 
dead ; " the soul everywhere recognises the matter of its own body, 
as we have shown in the book on physical magic "). 

7. De Magia Mathematica. Merely a collection of excerpts 
from writers on Magic Tritemius, Agrippa, Pietro Di Abano, the 
(Pseudo-) Albertus Magnus. (NorofF MSS. The title is that of 
the Italian editors.) 

8. De Rerum Principiis et Elementis et Causis. (NorofF MSS. 
The writing was begun on the i6th of March 1590, in Helmstadt, 
by Besler, to Bruno s dictation.) 

It contains the theory of the natural and material elements or 

1 Vide Of. Lat. iii., Introduction by Vitelli ; but according to Stolzle {Archi-v fur 
Gesch. d, P/iil. iii. 1890) and Tocco (Op. Ined., p. 99) they belong to the first stay 
in Paris. The latter adds that they may have been repeated in Wittenberg. 


principles of things light and fire, wind or air, water or vapour or 
darkness, and earth or the dry, with their "forms," time and place 
leaving the metaphysical and the immaterial principles (spirit 
and soul) for consideration elsewhere. It is not of great scientific 
value. Bruno makes use of abstract terms even more readily than 
Aristotle (e.g. "lux seminaliter est ubique, et in tenebris" p. 514). 
The chief aim of the work is to illustrate the magical applications 
of the different elements 1 (cf. pp. 516, 52 5, etc.). Its value mainly 
lies in the light it throws on Bruno s atomic theory, and on one or 
two other minor points of his philosophy the harmony, co-ordina 
tion, and sympathy between all natural things, the doctrines of 
liberty and necessity, etc. 

9. De Medicina Lulliana, partim ex mathematics, partim ex physicis 
principiis educta. Written immediately after the above (de rerum 
principiis}, to which it occasionally refers : merely a collection of 
abstracts from works of Lully on medicine, as a practical application 
of the system of magic contained in the three previous writings. 
It is accordingly of the astrological type of medieval medicine. 

10. De Vinculisin genere. NoroffMSS. A first sketch in Bruno s 
own hand, dating probably from Frankfort ; and a later, much 
more detailed, in Besler s, copied at Padua. It in a sense completes 
the tractates on Magic, by dealing with "attraction" in general, of 
which the attractions and sympathies of natural and mathematical 
magic are special cases. As it stands, however (for neither sketch 
is finished : Bruno s covers wider ground than Besler s, the latter 
breaks off abruptly before the natural end is reached), it is a 
psychological essay on the human passions, and more especially on 
human love, from a purely objective, matter-of-fact standpoint. 
In it the most grossly material and the highest spiritual sources of 
love are placed side by side ; and to love, including self-love, are 
reduced all passions, all effects, even hate, which is an outcome, a 
reversion of love. 

1 Under the heading " Time " (de temfore] there is a short treatise on Astrology. 




IN the school and the monastery at Naples Bruno passed 
as a matter of course through a training in the Scholastic 
Philosophy. Before entering the monastery of St. 
Dominic at fifteen years of age he had studied "humane 
letters, logic, and dialectic," 1 and had attended, among 
other lectures, a private course by Theophilus of Varrano, 
an Augustine monk and distinguished Aristotelian. 
From him, probably, Bruno received an impetus towards 
the study of Aristotle in the original works, if not also 
in the original tongue, which stood him in admirable 
stead when he came later to attack the foundations of 
the vulgar philosophy. He was familiar at first hand 
with all the main writings of Aristotle. 2 He had read, 
too, and cites, most of the earlier commentators 
Adrastus and Alexander of Aphrodisias, Porphyry, 
Themistius, Simplicius, and " Philoponus " 3 as well as 
the later, the Arabians and other Schoolmen. He had 
accordingly a more thorough acquaintance with the 
mind of Aristotle than any of the latter s staunchest 
supporters in his time : the lack of the historic sense 

1 Doc. 8 : the words suggest a special training in Latin, Greek, Philosophy, 
and Rhetoric, not the whole Trivium and Quadrivium of the ordinary education of 
the day, as Berti supposes. 

- Cf. Of. Lat. ii. 2. 61 ; ii. 3 ; i. 4. 39, 65, 69 j i. I. 256, etc. 

3 i. 4. 21 ; i. I. 223 j i. 1.231. 



prevented him, however, from taking a just view of the 
system as a whole : it was not the Aristotle of Greek 
philosophy whom he rejected, and against whom he 
wielded the powerful weapons of his armoury, but the 
Aristotle of his own day, a living force with which no 
one could avoid a reckoning, the influence of which was no 
longer for good, but which formed, as Bruno felt, a barrier 
against the progressive thought and spirit of the time. 
In the introductory letter to the Figuratio Arist. Phys. 
Auditus, Bruno gave three reasons for undertaking the 
work : l (i) " that he might not appear, like so many 
others, to be taking up the office of censor without a 
sufficient knowledge of his subject ; (2) that he might 
present to his opponents the philosophy of Aristotle 
as it really was, for the majority of the Aristotelians 
admired it rather from their faith in the man Aristotle 
than from discriminate judgment concerning the 
principles of the philosophy ; (3) that he might seem 
not an audacious caviller against thoughts that were 
beyond his depth, but a genuine and legitimate disputant 
on doctrines that were clear to himself." The name 
of Aristotle was a charm ; his opinion final not in matters 
of pure philosophy alone, but equally in natural theory ; 
his natural philosophy had been harmonised with 
scriptural authority, and was the accepted doctrine of 
the Church. The cry which his critic heard had weight 
behind it : " You against Aristotle against so many 
authorities, so great names ? I would rather be in 
error along with them, than find truth with you ! " 
The danger lay not so much in the error of Aristotle s 
theory of nature, or of his metaphysical theories, as in 
his authority ; "many of the Peripatetics," Bruno says 

1 A compendium of Aristotle s Physics. 2 Op. Lat. {.4. 131 if. 

3 (De Immense, iii. 3), Of, Lat. i. I. 340. 



in the Cena, "grow angry, and flush and quarrel about 
Aristotle, yet do not understand even the meanings of 
the titles of his books." 1 It was the influence of this 
authority that Bruno, in the interests of true philosophy 
and science, set to work to undermine. The charge 
which he brought against Aristotle was the same as that 
which Bacon afterwards brought that he attempted to 
explain nature by logical categories. " It is not strange 
that from impossible, logical, and imaginary distinctions 
quite discordant with the truth of things, he infers an 
infinite number of other untruths " (inconvenientia}? 
" Matter is formless only to logical abstraction, as with 
Aristotle, who is constantly dividing by reason what is 
indivisible according to nature and truth: " 3 "a logical 
intention (or concept) is made into a principle (or 
element) of nature." 4 However unfair and indeed 
absurd the charge must appear when Aristotle is con 
sidered in his actual place within the development of 
philosophy and science, and however far Bruno or Bacon 
or any of the nature-philosophers of the Renaissance was 
from avoiding the use in explanation of similar purely 
logical or metaphysical conceptions, it was still a great 
and necessary step to call attention to the need of 
observation and experiment upon nature, and to the 
value of mathematics as a method of calculating and 
correlating the phenomena observed. This was a second 
objection to Aristotle, that he despised mathematics, Aristotle s 

... i / i / j ,_ rejection ot 

" being too much or a logician (and stronger in criticism mat h em ati- 
than in argument)," yet, Bruno adds, "when he sought cal method - 
to explain any of the more profound facts of nature, 
he was often driven by necessity to the repudiated 

1 Lag. 131. 2 Op. Lat. ii. 2. 133. 3 Lag. 239. 

4 Ib. 252. Cf. Bacon s Nov. Org. i. 54: "Aristotle, who altogether enslaved 
his natural Philosophy to his Logic, and so rendered it nearly useless and conten 
tious," (vide infra, ch. 9). 



mathematics." Many of Bruno s own mathematical 
applications savour rather of Neopythagorean mysticism 
than of the spirit of modern science, and his geometry 
was far from Euclidean, but he at least made a serious 
attempt to account for the building-up of bodies and 
of the universe on mathematical principles. A third 
objection, which again we find in Bacon, is as to 
His treat- Aristotle s treatment of his predecessors. His deprecia- 

rnrnt ot the 

earlier tion of them is condemned in the Causa: "Of all 
philosophers I do not know one who founds more upon 
imagination, or is further removed from nature than he : 
and if sometimes what he says is excellent, we know 
that it does not spring from his own principles, but is 
always a proposition taken from other philosophers." 1 
In another passage he is described as a " dry sophist, 
aiming with malicious explanations and frivolous argu 
ments to pervert the opinions of the ancients, and to 
oppose the truth, not so much perhaps through 
imbecility of intelligence as through the influence of 
envy and ambition." So Bacon speaks of him as 
imposing " innumerable fictions upon the nature of 
things at his own will : being everywhere more anxious 
as to how one should extricate oneself by an answer, and 
how some positive reply in words should be made, than 
as to the internal truth of things." 3 In particular it 
was argued that Aristotle confused the various meanings 
of the same name with one another : " He takes the 
word vacuum in a sense in which no one has ever under 
stood it, building castles in the air, and then pulling 
down his vacuum, but not that of any other who has 
spoken of a vacuum or made use of the name. So he 
acts in all other cases, those for example of motion, 

1 Lag. 256. * Ib. 280. 

s Nov. Org. i. 62. 


infinite, matter, form, demonstration, being, 
always building on the faith of his own definition, which 
gives the name a new sense." 

The close study of Aristotle himself, which was one The p re 

. Anstote- 

of the oreatest results of the Humanist movement, had ii ans . 

the effect of bringing into greater prominence the 

earlier Greek philosophers, whose doctrines Aristotle 
states and criticises in many of his works notably the 
Physics and Metaphysics. The rediscovery of antiquity 
included that of ancient philosophy ; and Bruno s dis 
satisfaction with Aristotle led him into greater sympathy 
with the nature -philosophers whom Aristotle decried. 
Towards these earlier Greeks, as towards other 
philosophers, his attitude is wholly that of an Eclectic : 
he does not attempt to appreciate their relative value, 
nor to discover any evolution of thought through the 
successive systems. From each he takes that which 
aorees or appears to agree with his own philosophy, and 
treats it as an anticipation of, or as an authority for, 
the latter. The " universal intelligence," for example, 
as the universal efficient cause in nature, is a doctrine 
ascribed in the Causa indiscriminately to the Pythago 
reans, the Platonists, the Magi, Orpheus, Empedocles, 
and Plotinus. 2 The belief in an infinite ether (Hera- 
clitus Fire) surrounding the earth, and containing 
innumerable worlds within it, in the Cena is attributed, 
equally without discrimination, to Heraclitus, Democ- 
ritus, Epicurus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Melissus. 3 
Xenophanes represented for Bruno the static aspect of 
Pantheism the Absolute One as in itself, apart from 
all reference to the finite ; 4 Heraclitus its dynamic 

1 (De VlnfinitG}, Lag. 324. 2 Lag. 231. 

3 Ib. 183. Cf. Op. Lat. i. i. 282, 288. 
4 Cf. Op. Lat. i. I. 96, 3. 26, 3. 271 ; i. i. 291 j i. 3. 26 ; iii. 70, etc. 



aspect the Absolute as unfolding, revealing itself, 
" appearing " in and through the finite. 1 Anaxagoras 
expressed the relation between the finite individual 
and the One, " All things are in all things," for 
" omnipotent, all-producing divinity pervades the whole, 
therefore nothing is so small but that divinity lies con 
cealed in it." "Everything is in everything, because 
spirit or soul is in all things, and therefore out of any 
thing may be produced anything else." To Anaxagoras, 
as to Bruno, nature was divine. 4 No special distinction 
was made by Bruno between the teaching of Anaxagoras 

* O D 

and that of Empedocles : in one passage he attributes 
to the former the theory of effluxes and influxes of 
atoms through the pores of bodies, which really belongs 
to the latter," and in another suggests that Empedocles 
only put in a more "abstract" way what Anaxagoras 
had shown "concretely," that all things are in all. 
With Leucippus and Democritus Bruno might have 

. " 

been expected to claim affinity, through their common 
atomism and naturalism : with two cardinal features of 
the traditional Epicureanism he was however in entire 
disagreement. The one was its admission of the 
void or vacuum : it explained the constitution of 
diverse bodies out of atoms which were all of the same 
spherical form, by the different positions and order in 
which the void and solid parts respectively were 
arranged, whereas Bruno could not imagine the cor 
poreal atoms holding together without a material 
substance, extending continuously throughout the 
universe. 7 The other point of contrast was its denial 

1 Lag. 282. - Of. Lat. ii. 2. 196, and (Her. Fur.) Lag. 722, 35. 

3 Ccna, Lag. 237. 9. Cf. Her. Fur. Lag. 722. 35. 

4 Lag. 256. 25, 273. 25. Cf. Of. Lat. i. j. 377. 6 i. i. 272. 

6 2- I4 8 - 7 i. 3- 140. 


that anything but corporeal matter exists, with the 

corollary that forms are merely accidental dispositions 

of matter : Bruno confesses to have been at one time of 

the same opinion, but he had been unable wholly to 

reduce forms to matter, and therefore was compelled 

to admit two kinds of substance, forms or ideas, and 

matter or body, although these again were modes of 

a still higher unity, the One. 1 " The deep thought 

of the learned Lucretius " 2 early fascinated Bruno, Lucretius. 

and Lucretius gave the trend not only to much of 

his philosophy but also to the style of his writing. 

The Latin poems were suggested by Lucretius De 

rerum natura, to which they are far inferior, certainly, 

in literary charm ; the philosophical system of the later 

writer however is not only bolder and grander in itself, 

but far more thoroughly worked out into the detail of 

exposition and of criticism. In the Italian dialogues 

also Lucretius is constantly quoted, frequently from 

memory, as one may judge from the errors made. 

But in the first reaction against the now barren Neopiato 
Peripatetic philosophy, the school to which Bruno 
turned, with so many of his fellow-countrymen, was 
that which nominally derived from Aristotle s immediate 
predecessor. The revival of Platonism in its secondary 
form of Neoplatonism was one of the most marked 
traits of the time. In connection with the attempt to 
unite the Greek and Latin Churches in 1438, a Greek 
scholar came from Constantinople, one Georgius 
Gemistus (Gemistus Plethon), to the court at 
Florence, and there opened the minds of the Italians 
to the beauty of the Platonic philosophy. Its mystical 
world of ideas charmed all who were embued with the 
new spirit romantic, adventurous, hopeful, self-con- 

1 Causa, Lag. 247. 2 Of. Lat. i. 3. 169. 


fident. The Ideas, it is true, were materialised and 
personified in the transition through Neoplatonism, 
and it was as spirits of the stars and worlds, demons of 
the earth and sea, the living souls of plants and stones, 
that they appealed to minds fed on the grosser fare of 
mediaeval superstition. Plethon s lectures, uncritical as 
they were, ensured the spread of Platonism in Italy. 
Bessarion of Trebizond, Marsilio Ficino, who became 
head of the Platonist Academy at Florence, and Pico 
of Mirandula followed in his steps. Both Ficino and 
Pico are mentioned by Bruno, and his knowledge of 
Plato, as of Plotinus, Porphyry, and other Neoplatonists, 
was derived, almost certainly, from Ficino s translations. 
The teaching of Plato was interpreted in the light of, 
and confused by admixture with, the mystical ideas of 
Philo and Plotinus, of Porphyry and lamblichus, of the 
Jewish Cabala, and the mythical sayings of Egyptian, 
Chaldean, Indian, and Persian sages. The new world 
was struggling for light, and it rushed towards every 
gleam of brightness, however feeble. Thus in the 
address to the senate at Wittenberg before leaving the 
university, Bruno named the foremost of those whom 
he regarded as Builders of the Temple of Wisdom : 
the list begins with the Chaldeans among the Egyptians 
and Assyrians ; there follow Zoroaster and the Magi 
among the Persians, the Gymnosophists of India, 
Orpheus and Atlas among Thracians and Libyans, 
Thales and other wise men among the Greeks, and 
so down to Paracelsus in Bruno s own century. The 
fantastic grouping is characteristic of the uncritical 
syncretism of this last phase of Neoplatonism : Plethon 
had conjoined the dogmas of Plato with those of 
Zoroaster, and had confirmed both by illustrations 
from Greek mythology. Among the most widely read 


works were those of lamblichus the Platonist, who died 
early in the fourth century, the Life of Pythagoras, 
and especially the Mysteries of the Egyptians. 1 Another 
work, in many books, which has not come down to us, 
but which penetrated into the literature of the middle 
ages, was on the Perfect Theology of the Chaldaeans. To 
lamblichus, as to Plotinus, the Ideal world was a 
hierarchy of Gods, from the ineffable, unsearchable 
One, down, tier upon tier, through successive emana 
tions, to the Gods that are immanent in the world we 
know and the things of the world. In the scheme not 
only do the Ideas of Plato, the Numbers of Pythagoras, 
the Forms of Aristotle, find a place, but also all the 
Gods of the Greek mythology, of the Egyptian religion, 
of the Babylonian and Hebrew esoteric cults. The 
same character is to be found in the writings of the so- 

called Hermes or Mercurius Trismegistus, to whom 

Bruno constantly appeals. 2 It was partly for their 
cosmology, more in accord with modern thought than 
that of the Peripatetics and the Church, that they were 
read ; but still more for the support their belief in 
demonic spirits, governing the movements of the 
worlds and of all individual things, gave to magical 
and theurgical practices, which through the slackening 
of the rule of the Church were now universal. " All 
stars are called fires by the Chaldaeans," writes Bruno, 
" animals of fire, ministers of fire, innumerable gods, 
divine oracles." " The Chaldaeans and the wise Rabbis 
endowed the stars with intelligence and feeling." 4 
" There are some who are by no means thought worthy 
of a hearing among philosophers, the Chaldaeans and 

1 Cf. Her. Fur., Lag. 636. If not by lamblichus, this work issued certainly 
from his school, to which Julian the Apostate belonged. 

2 E -g- Op.Lat. i. i. 376. 3 Ibid. Qp.dt. 



Hebrew sages, who attribute body to the omnipotent 
God, calling him a consuming fire " : below Him 
were innumerable Gods, flames of fire, and spirits of air, 
which were subtle, active, mobile bodies : souls too were 
spirits that is, subtle bodies ; and Bruno adds, " We 
do not pursue this mode of philosophising, but are far 
from despising it, nor have ever thought that a wise 
man should think it contemptible." The theology or 

Egyptian theosophy of the Egyptians is praised in the Spaccio,"- 
" The magical and divine cult ot the Egyptians, who 
saw divinity in all things, and in all actions (each 
manifesting divinity in its own special way) ; and knew 
by means of its forms in the bosom of nature how to 
secure the benefits they derived from it as out of the 
sea and rivers it gives fish, out of the deserts wild 
beasts, and out of mines metals, out of trees fruits, and 
out of certain parts of nature, certain animals, certain 
brutes, certain plants, are gifted certain fates, virtues, 
fortunes, or impressions. Divinity in the sea was 
called Neptune, in the sun Apollo, in the earth Ceres, 
in the deserts Diana, and diversely in each of the other 
species of things : as divine ideas, they were diverse 
deities in Nature, and all were referred to one deity of 
deities, one source of Ideas above Nature." The 
passage shows clearly the connection between the 
revived enthusiasm for the old pagan cults and the new 
but dark beginnings of independent study of nature, in 
Magic, Divination, Alchemy, and Astrology : equally 
close was the connection of both with the revival of 
Pantheism, the conception of nature as a single whole 
throbbing with one life, springing from one single 

Hebrew source. So of the Hebrew Cabala, Bruno writes, " its 
wisdom (whatever it be in its kind) derives from the 

1 Of. Lat. i, 2. 409. 2 Lag. 532. 


Egyptians, among whom Moses was brought up." 
" In the first place it attributes to the first principle 
a name ineffable, from which proceed, in the second 
place, four names, afterwards resolved into twelve, 
these into seventy-two, these into one hundred and forty- 
four, etc., etc. By each name they name a god, an 
angel, an intelligence, a power that presides over a 
species of things, so the whole of divinity is reduced 
back to one source, as all light is brought back to the 
first, self-shining light ; and the images in the diverse, 
innumerable mirrors, particular existences, are re 
ferred to one formal, 1 ideal source." 

As might be expected, Plato himself was best 
known to the school through one of the least charac 
teristic of his works, the Timaeus, with its fanastic 
cosmology and demonology, alongside of which was 
placed the work of (the Pseudo-) Timaeus of Locris, a 
later writing, based upon that of Plato, although pro 
fessing to belong to an earlier date : next to these in 
importance came the Republic, with the theory of Ideas. 
It was from the Chaldaeans, Egyptians, and Pythago- 

1 i. P.. creative or original. 

2 Spaccio, Lag. 533. Bruno was probably acquainted with the De arte 
cabbalistica (1517) of Reuchlin the Platonist, and with Pico of Mirandula s Caba- 
listarum se/ectiora oiscuriorajue dogmata. Of the Cabala itself the first part (Creation) 
was published in Hebrew at Mantua 1562, a translation into Latin at Basle 1587 : 
the second part, The Book of Splendour, Hebrew, 1560, a translation, not, as it seems, 
until the following century. It is unlikely that Bruno read Hebrew, although he 
makes use of Hebrew letters among his symbols. But there were many writings on 
the Cabala from which he could have derived his idea of their teaching e.g. 
Agrippa s Occulta Philosophia, to which he was indebted for much of the De Monade. 
The Cabala (i.e. traditional teaching ") is a collection of dogmas made about the 
ninth and thirteenth centuries ; it was certainly influenced by Neoplatonism, and 
contained the interpretation of creation as emanation in graduated series of beings 
from the one supreme Being, of the Logos or Divine Word as intermediary between 
the Supreme and the lower beings (viz. the material world and all sensible objects) : 
the elements of the Logos are the Sephiroth, the ten numbers of Pythagoras, corre 
sponding to the chief virtues or qualities ; next to these are the ideas or forms, then 
the world-souls, and last of all material things. 


reans that Plato was supposed to have derived his cos 
mology. It is, however, with the system of Plotinus 
that Bruno s earlier theory has the closest affinity : he 
passed far beyond that system, as the following chapters 
may show, but many of the ideas that had come down 
from the master remained throughout part of the basis 
of Bruno s thought : such are, for example, the idea of 
the Universal Intelligence, distinct from the One, the 
Highest and Unknowable Being, or God, as the soul 
of the world and the source of the forms of material 
things ; l the ratioms orjdeas which are contained in it 
mould and form all things from the seed onwards : the 
seed is a miniature world containing implicitly, i.e. in 
its ratio, form or soul, the perfect thing." The con 
ception again of the lower, sensible world, as an 
imitation of the higher, the intelligible, is derived from 
Plotinus, as is that of the seven grades or steps of 
emanation from the First Principle to the material 
world, which correspond to the seven grades by which 
the human mind rises from the knowledge of sensible 
things to that of the Highest, the Good. 3 The order 
of knowledge corresponds step for step with the order of 
emanation of creation. Most significant of all for the 


development of Bruno s philosophy was Plotinus con 
ception of an " intelligible matter," which is common 
to all the different beings and species, in the intelligible 
world, just as brute matter is that which is common to 
all kinds of corporeal objects. 4 Again from Plotinus 
derives the distinction that the matter underlying the 
intelligible world is all things and all together : having 
in it (implicitly) all forms, there is nothing into which 
it may change : whereas the matter of the sensible 

1 Cjusa, Lag. 231. 2 Of. Lat. i. 2. 196. 3 Ib. ii. i. 48. 

4 Plotinus, Er.ncads, ii. 4. 4 ; cf. Bruno s Causa, Lag. 267. 

ii PLOTINUS 133 

world becomes all by change in its parts, becomes at 
successive moments this and that, is therefore at all 
times in diversity, change, movement. Matter of either 
kind is never without form, but all forms are in them 
in different ways in the one in the instant of eternity, 
in the other in the instants of time ; in the one all at 
once, in the other successively, in the one complicity, in 
the other explicitly^ The same idea is attributed in 
the De Immense (Book V.) to the Platonists, "that 
God has imbued celestial matter with all forms at once, 
but gives them to elemental matter in single moments, 
just as he has poured into the nature of the Gods all 
ideas once for all, but instils them into animal nature 
day by day. And as in the order of minds there is an 
ultimate principle which is incorruptible, so in the order 
of bodies. For the order of bodies follows that of 
intelligences as a footmark follows the foot, as a shadow 
follows the body ; hence whatever order is proved to 
hold of minds, the same will be found to hold of bodies." : 
It only remained to identify the two kinds of matter, 
the divine and the " elemental," the spiritual and the 
corporeal, to obtain the pure Pantheistic naturalism of 
the middle period of Bruno s philosophy : at that stage 
he was no longer in sympathy with the Neoplatonist 
psychology, and denied the doctrine of a separate in 
telligence or understanding in man, an intelligence, that 
is, of different origin from sense, and therefore of 
different kind ; he rejected also their view that the 
imagination which is the source of instinct in animals, 
differs from human imagination, and their assertion of a 
difference in kind between reason and intellect in man. 
For Bruno, as the order of nature was throughout the 
same in kind, constituted of similar elements, so the 

1 Causa, Lag. 271 ; cf. Plot. Enn. ii. 4. 3. 


order of thought or knowledge was one in kind, from 
its lowest phase in sense, to its highest in the divine 
ecstasy. In the Heroici Furori (as again in the post 
humous De Vlnculis in gen ere) the Platonic doctrine of 
the ascent to the ecstatic vision and love of divine 
beauty, from sense-perception and the material feeling 
for sensible beauty, is the essential topic throughout : 
and in both Bruno is largely indebted for his symbolism 
to the Neoplatonist mystics. 

The renewed passion for physical science brought 
another school of philosophy into prominence the 
Arabian. 1 The chief commentaries of this school on 
Aristotle, as well as many of their original writings, 
were translated and published before the middle of the 
sixteenth century. Their interest being directed rather 
towards the physical and metaphysical writings of the 
master, than towards the logical, they helped to satisfy 
and to foster the growing spirit of inquiry, and at the 
same time to spread abroad a more exact knowledge of 
the real Aristotle than was to be derived from the 
Christian commentators, whose philosophy was much 
less in sympathy with Aristotle s than was imagined. 
The general trend ot the Arabian school in meta 
physics was towards a modified Aristotelianism, leavened 
by the Neoplatonist conception of the essential unity of 
all being and all thought, particular things and particular 
ideas being a free outflow from the One, into which they of 
necessity return again without affecting its fundamental 
nature. Bruno was familiar with Avicenna? Avempace? 
Avicebron? Algazel? and above all Averroes. Avice- 

1 Vide Munk, Melanges as Philosophie jul ut et Arabe, Paris, 1589 ; and Dictionnaire 
da sciences Philosophiques, Paris, 1844-52. 

2 Ibn Sina, 980-1037 A.D. ; cf. Of. La;, iii. 458, 475. 

3 Op. Lat. i. i. 223, called by Bruno H:sanu:, but really an Arabian, Ibn Badja, 
(1.1138. 4 A Jew, Ibn Gebirol, fl. 1050. 5 Al Ghazzali, 1059-1 1 1 1 A.D. 


bron or Avencebrol was the author of the famous Fons 
Vitae, "the Source of Life," which gained a quite 
undeserved notoriety for its supposed materialism. Bruno 
did not know it at first hand, but through quotations 
in the translated Arabian writings, 1 and criticisms in the 
Scholastics. Accordingly his idea of it is by no means 
accurate. 2 He knew that Avicebron had spoken of 
matter as divine, that he had reduced even the " sub 
stantial forms" of Aristotle to transitory phases of 
matter " the stable, the eternal, progenetrix, mother 
of all things," 3 and had shown the logical necessity of 
assuming a matter, or ground, out of which corporeal 
nature on the one hand, incorporeal or spiritual on the 
other, are differentiated. 4 It is clear that this under 
lying matter was not material in the ordinary sense, but 
a unity which in itself was neither corporeal nor spiritual, 
yet in its different aspects was both at once. That is a 
conception which formed one of the main theses in 
Bruno s philosophy. Directly or indirectly, he drew 
from the Fons Vitae the thought of a common some 
thing which runs through all differences, which is their 
basis, and gives them reality, which stands to them in 
the relation of Aristotle s matter to forms : under the 
differences of bodily objects there lies one common 
matter, under the differences of spiritual beings another, 
and under the differences of these two secondary 
" matters " lies a primary matter in which both are one. 
So too the progress of thought is from the most com- 


plex, or composite, material bodies, through the less 
complex, the spiritual, to the highest and simplest, the 

1 Cf. Op. Lat. iii. 696. 

2 Vide Wittman, Giord. Bruno s Beziebungen zu sit encibrol in the Archiii fur 
Geschichte der Phil. 13. 2 (1900). 

3 Cjusa, Lag. 253 ; cf. 246, and Of. Lat. iii. 696. * Causa, Lag. 265. 



One. 1 Of AJgazel s Makacid*. resume of the chief 
philosophical systems, which were criticised in a 
second part of the work a translation was published 
in 1506. Although an orthodox theologian, he taught 
Bruno that the Sacred Books had as their end not so 
much truth or knowledge about reality " as goodness 
of custom, the advantage of the civil body, harmonious 
living together of peoples, and practice for the benefit 
of human intercourse, maintenance of peace, increase of 
republics " ; 2 in other words, that the Bible claimed no 
authority in regard to matters of historical fact or of 
natural science, but contained a revelation of moral 
or practical rather than of speculative or theoretical 
truth. 3 For Averroes, Bruno has the highest respect : 4 
*chd he constantly speaks of him as " the most subtle and 
weighty of the Peripatetics"; Averroes, though an 
Arab and ignorant of Greek (!), is more at home in the 
Peripatetic doctrine than any Greek I have read : and 
he would have understood it better, had he not been so 
devoted to his deity Aristotle." 5 This blind faith in 
Aristotle was the weak spot in Averroes armour, and 
the cause of many of his subtleties. " He could not 
believe that Aristotle, whose knowledge was co-extensive 
with creation, could have erred ; rather than deny 
Aristotle, he refused to believe his own senses." 6 In 
philosophical theory there were at least two points of 

1 Cf. Wittman, he. ch. ^ Ccna. Lag. 170. 

Ho. Fur. Lag. 742. Algazel is connected with Averroes by Bruno in another 
argument against authority, that the mere habit of and familiarity with a given 
belief does not authorise its truth, for " those who from boyhood and youth are 
accustomed to eat poison, come to such a state that it is transformed into a sweet 
and good nourishment for them, and on the contrary they come to abhor what is 
really good and pleasant accortling to common nature. 

A Latin translation of Averroes Commentaries was published in 1472. and one of 
his criticisms of Algazel (Datructk destruction:;) in 1497 and in 1527. 
5 Cau*a, Lag. 271, and Of. Lat. i. 2. 411. r > i. i. 370. 


contact between Bruno and the great Arabian one was 


the doctrine that forms, i.e. individual particular objects, 
are sent out from and therefore originally contained in 
matter, or, in modern phrase, that the evolution of 
natural objects is from within outwards, not imposed 
upon nature by an alien and separate creator : l the 
other was the theory of a universal intelligence per 
vading and illuminating all human minds, yet remaining 
one and the same in all, itself an emanation from the 
Divine, and the lowest in the order of intelligences. 2 
Bruno did not, however, speak of it as separate from the 
finite minds, but as immanent in them : nor did he 
regard it as the only immortal element in man. 

Of the Scholastics proper, from whom much at least ^ 

f Tt l J J Ma 

or Bruno s terminology is derived, two seem to have 
influenced him most strongly: Albert the Great, whose 
interest in natural science entitled him to a place in the 
temple of wisdom : " He had no equal in his time, and 
was far superior to Aristotle, whose school, in which he 
ranked according to the conditions of his age, was 
unworthy of him " ; 3 and Thomas Aquinas, the angelic 
doctor, "honour and glory of all and every race of 
theologians and of Peripatetic philosophers." 4 Gener 
ally speaking, however, the Scholastic is to Bruno the 
pedant, the dabbler in words, as contrasted with the 
student of nature or of reality. 5 Under this condemna 
tion fell two of the greatest innovators upon the 
Aristotelian philosophy of his own time, Ramus, and 

1 Causa, Lag. 271 : on Averroes cf. Op. Lot. i. I. 221, 224, 337, 338, etc. 

2 Her. Fur. Lag. 677. 

3 Of. Lai. i. i. 16. Albertus lived from 1193 to 1280 A.D. There are frequent 
references to the spurious writings attributed to him, in Bruno s De Magia Mathe- 
marica, etc. 

4 i. 2. 415. Cf. Sig. Sig. ii. 2. 190, for a reputed miracle related of Saint 

~ Cf. the ridicule in Lag. 361 and 563. 


Patrizzi. The great logician was merely " a French arch- 
pedant, who has written The School upon the Liberal 
ArtS) and the Animadversions against Aristotle. We 
may admit that he understood Aristotle, but he under 
stood him badly ; and had he understood him well, he 
would perhaps have been minded to make honourable 
war upon him, as the judicious Telesio has done." 1 The 
fashionable philosopher and Platonist is " un altro 
stereo di pedanti, an Italian who has soiled so many 
quires with his Discussioncs Peripateticae ; we cannot 
say he understood Aristotle, either well or ill, but 
he has read and re-read, stitched and unstitched, and 
compared with a thousand other Greek authors, friendly 
and unfriendly to Aristotle, and in the end has under 
gone great labour, not only without any profit, but also 
with very great disprofit, so that he who would see into 
what presumptuous folly and vanity the pedantic habit 
may plunge a man, let him look at that book, before 
the memory of it is lost." Tocco has laid his finger 


upon the reason for Bruno s dislike of these moderns, 
and it explains his objection to the Scholastics generally: 
it was that they attempted to remodel and reform the 
Logic and Rhetoric of Aristotle, the very parts of his 
work which Bruno regarded as the most perfect, and 
neglected the physical works, the theory of which had 
so powerful an authority to back it, and therefore all 
the more required the energies of the stronger minds of 
the time to be directed upon it. 2 

Luiiy, One of the mediaeval writers Bruno associated so 

v closely with himself, that his indebtedness might easily be 

exaggerated : this was Raymond Lully, whose grim 

figure stands out from the shadowy thirteenth century, 

1 Causa, Lag. 246. 
2 Tocco, Font: f:u recent:, etc., p. 538. 



the author of the celebrated Art of Reasoning. 1 The 
object of the Art was to tabulate the primary forms or 
elements of thought, and their modes of combination, 
from which data, it was believed, any process of 
reasoning, however complex, might be carried out, 
without greater expenditure of energy than in perform 
ing an arithmetical operation with any of the first 
nine numbers. There was no question of a possible 
divorce between thought and reality. The result of 
any such process of rational calculus properly carried 
out was truth. Bruno thought with Lully that 
the ultimate ideas within reach of human thought 
were at the same time substantial elements in reality 
and that the completest knowledge of reality short 
of the Absolute was within the power of human 
reason to achieve. Lully included in this rational 
sphere the dogmas of Christian theology : faith was for 
the many, who must be driven to believe ; reason for 
the few, the wise. Lully s method attracted, and his 
teaching influenced nearly all the greater minds of the 
later middle ages, and of the Renaissance. They 
became a source of as bitter contention as the doctrines 
of Aristotle himself. Bruno speaks of Lully as " almost 
divine " ; Agrippa, after being an ardent follower, came 
to see the vanity of the system, and Bacon called it 
a method of imposture. At different times Bruno 
expounded, criticised, and expanded the Art. He 
claims 2 to have " embellished the method of him whom 
the best leaders among philosophers admire, follow, 
imitate." Duns Scotus (" Scotigena "), Nicholas of 

1 Besides the several works on the Art of Reasoning, Lully had written also on 
theology and on medicine, and Bruno, in his (posthumous) Medidra Lulliana, gave a 
compendium of the latter group of writings. 

2 De Lam fade Combinatorial, Of. Lat. ii. 2. 234. 


Cusa, Paracelsus, Agrippa, are named, unjustly, as 
having drawn their chief doctrines from this source : 
Lefevre and Bouille ] cited among his most recent 
followers. The art was taught " by some divine 
genius to a rude uncultured hermit, and although it 
seems to issue from one too dense and stupid, yet it 
excels the teaching of any famous Attic orator in this 
kind, as a crop of wheat excels one of barley. It seemed 
to us unfitting that this work, struggling upwards to 
the light, against the envy of oppressing darkness, 
should be suffered to perish and be lost." 2 Yet Bruno 
by no means thought Lully s exposition perfect. Of 
his own Lullian work, the De Compendiosa Architectural 
he says that it " suffices for the understanding, estimating, 
and prosecuting of the art of Lully, by those who are 
skilled in the vulgar philosophy. For in it is expressed 
in one whole, all that is in Lully s many Arts, in 
which he always seems to be saying the same thing ; 
you have there all that is in the Ars Brevis, the Ars 
Magna, and other books bearing the name of Arbor 
Scientiae, In-ventionis, Artes demon str at ivae, mixtionis 
principiorum, Auditus cabalistici, or any other of that 
kind, in which the poor fellow strove always to express 
the same thing." 

It was the dream of universal knowledge that 
attracted Bruno and others to Lullism,just as the dream 
of universal power over nature attracted the greater 
minds of the Renaissance to the pseudo-science of 
Alchemy. The same idea is at the root of both. All 
things are in all things, i.e. the one fundamental nature 
is in each and every individual thing, therefore out of 
any one may be produced any other. So in the idea of 

1 Faber Stapulensis (c. 1500), and Carolus Bovillus (c. 1470-1553). Both were 
rather followers of Cusanus. - Op. Lat. ii. 2. 242. 3 ii. 2. 61. 


any one thing, the knowledge of all and any others is 
necessarily contained, requiring only a proper method 
for its extraction, as out of the seed may be brought 
the great tree. Therefore, to Bruno, the hermit Lully 
seemed "omniscient and almost divine," his method an 
inspiration from above. 1 There is little, however, to 
connect Bruno with the substantive teaching of Lully, 
apart from the method. He explicitly rejects, for 
example, the main contention of Lully, that the Christian 
dogmas are capable of demonstration by reason. 
" Those relations (i.e. between God and man), which 
have been revealed to the worshippers of Christ alone, 
are contrary to all reasoning, philosophy, other faiths 
and superstitions, and allow of no demonstration but of 
faith only, in spite of what Lully in his madness 
(delirando] attempted to do, in face of the opinion of 
the great theologians." 

Foremost of all, however, of the influences which j^ icgiaus 
directed Bruno s thought was that of the Cardinal Cusanus - 
Nicolaus of Cusa (Nicholas ChrypfFs). A " pre-refor- 
mation reformer," he stands both in theology and 
philosophy between the old and the new eras, summing 
up in his own theory the purest theology and the most 
refined philosophy of the Middle Ages, yet inevitably 
pointing forwards to a scientific and religious reform 
which should transcend both. " Where," cried Bruno 
in his oration at Wittenberg, "will you find his equal? 
and the greater he is the fewer are they to whom he is 
accessible. Had not the robe of the priest infected his 
genius it would have been not merely equal to but far 
superior to that of Pythagoras." " He knew and 

1 Op. Lat. ii. 2. 329, 3. 297. - De Comp. Arch. ii. 2. 42. 

3 i. i. 17. On Cusanus v. Falckenberg, Grund-ziJge der Philosophie des Nicolaus 
Cusanus, 1880, Uebinger, Philosophic des N. C., 1880, and Gotiedehre des N. C.., 


discerned much, and is truly one of the most gifted 
natures that have ever breathed the air of heaven ; but 
as to the apprehension of truth, he was like a swimmer 
in tempestuous waters, cast now high now low, he did 
not see the light continuously, openly, clearly ; did not 
swim as in calm and quiet waters, but interruptedly, at 
intervals, for he had not cast off all the false principles 
which he had received from the common doctrine 
his starting-point." 

A sketch of the philosophy of the Cusan will show 
in how close a relation Bruno stands to him, yet how 
great is the difference in outcome between the two 
philosophies. Clemens, whose sympathies are with the 
orthodox theologian, does not hesitate to say that this is 
" the real and direct source from which Bruno drew 
with both hands, the philosophy to which he owes many 
of the main principles of his nature-philosophy, and 
which he has to thank for all the essentials of teaching 
said to be peculiar to himself" ; and Falckenberg is 
equally inclined to underrate the originality of the 
Italian in preference to the German philosopher. The 
outset of Cusanus philosophy is from a theory of 
knowledge which he held from Platonist traditions : 
Knowledge is posterior both in time and in value to 
Being, or Reality, of which it is at best a copy or a 
sign, hence Reality can never be wholly comprehended 
by it. Every human assertion is at best a " conjec 
ture," a hypothesis or approach to truth, but never the 
absolute truth itself. Only in the Divine spirit are 
thought and reality one ; the Divine thought is at the 
same time creative, human only reflective, imitative, 
thus the Ultimate Being is and must remain incompre- 

1888, F. J. Clemens, Giord. Brur.u ur.d NikJaus I-CH Cusa, 1847, Scharpft", Des N. 
-von C. wichstigite Schriften, 1862. l Ir.finito, Lag. 348. 


hensible for human minds. So Bruno also taught. 
The Cusan did not, however, reject on this account all 
human knowledge. On the contrary, reason approxi 
mates ever more and more closely to the Divine mind, 
as a polygon approaches more and more to the form of 
a circle when the number of its sides is increased ; as it 
never becomes an actual circle, so the Divine reason 
may be known ever more and more truly through 
human reason, but never quite truly. It is the know 
ledge of this our essential ignorance of the Divine that 
brings us nearest to it. 1 Thus although from one 

D D 

point of view all that is best in human experience may 
be attributed to the Divine nature in a higher form 
(positive theology}, from another every predicate, even 
the highest, may be denied of it (negative theology], or 
from still a third standpoint (mystical theology], con 
trary predicates equally hold or do not hold of the 
Divine. This " coincidence of contraries," suggested 


perhaps by the tradition of Heraclitus and Empedocles, 
was in the Cusan a principle of knowledge merely. 
The Divine was at once the greatest and the least ; 
greatest because we could not imagine it added to, for 
it was the all ; least because, being truly existent, we 
could not imagine anything taken away from it. It is 
owing to the limits of human thought, therefore, that God 
is at once greatest and least, equal and unequal, many 
and one ; God Himself is free from all contradiction, 
the apparent contraries of our understanding are in Him 
one and the same. So, to our imagination, the infinite 
circle coincides with the infinite straight line, and a top 
spinning with its fastest movement appears to stand 

Bruno extols the greatness of this discovery " Con- 

1 Cf. Cusanus De docla igncrar:t:a. 


sidering it physically, mathematically, morally, one sees 
that the philosopher who saw into the coincidence of 
contraries made a discovery of the highest importance, 
and that the magician who knows to seek it where it is 
is no feeble practician." : Yet, although he made use of 
the same geometrical illustrations, and believed himself 
to be substantially following Cusanus, his theory was 
widely different. The coincidence springs in Bruno, not 
from the limitations of the human mind, but from the 
fulness of the Divine nature. It is not in God as the 
transcendent unknowable Being that the coincidence 
inheres, but in the infinite universe as one with God, 
which is in itself at once the greatest and the least, the 
maximum and the minimum. Since nature is per 
meated by God, in everything, in the least of things, is 
God the greatest ; the least is the greatest, has in it 
the nature of the whole, and so, too, the greatest is the 
least. In Bruno it is a pantheistic, in the Cusan a 
theistic, doctrine. The same conception occurs again 
in its different meanings, when both compare God to 
an infinite circle in which centre and circumference are 
one ; in Cusanus it is to our knowledge that He so 
appears, in Bruno He really is infinite, and is with His 
whole nature at any point or centre, as well as in the 
whole, the circumference. 
The With the Cusan the threefold nature of the Highest 

Trinity. . 

Being is deduced as a necessity of Reason : it is (i) 
unity eternal ; (2) sameness or equality eternal ; and 
(3) the union of unity and equality. As there 
cannot be three eternal and highest beings, these three 
are necessarily one the Unity (the Father) produces 
or begets from itself the same (the Son), and out of 
both springs their union (the Holy Ghost), yet each of 

1 Spacfic, Lag. 420. 


these in the One is one and the same. 1 In the universe, 
the created world, there is also a Trinity, since it 
is a copy or reflection of the Divine. (i) Pos 
sibility or Matter, the unlimited, indeterminate, but 
capable of being limited and determined, corre 
sponds to the unity of the eternal ; (2) Actuality, or 
Form, the limiting or determining something, that 
which limits, corresponds to the sameness or equality 
of the Eternal ; and (3) the unifying movement 
by which the possible receives actuality, matter re 
ceives form, implying a spirit of union, of Love, 
corresponds to the Absolute Union, the Holy Ghost. 2 
At a later stage of his philosophy, however, the 
Cusan gave a second deduction of the Trinity. 3 God 
is both Absolute Possibility, Absolute Power or 
Potency (the Creative Word, the Son), and the union 
of both in Absolute Reality ; yet these are merely 
different aspects or points of view of the Eternal Being. 
Again, God is the identity of knowing, or intellect, 
the knowable or intelligible (the Word), and love, as 
the inter-relation of each with each, the striving of the 
knowing after the knowable, its highest good. 4 Bruno 
also adopts the Trinity of Possibility or Matter, 
Potency or Form, and Reality, but it is applied at 
once to God and to Nature as two sides of the same 
thing. As the Divine potency is infinite, so is nature, 
its expression, infinite ; matter and form do not in their 
origin stand opposed to one another, as if separated 
from one another, any more than power and possibility 
are separate in God ; all that can be is realised ; matter 
has in itself all possible forms, and produces these out 
of itself in the successive moments of time ; the universe 

1 De docta ignorantia, i. 7. Jlkharan, ii. 7, 8. 

- Doct. ignor. ii. 7. 3 De Possest. * Alchoran, ii. 6. 



is eternal, therefore, in order that the infinite power 
may in it be realised. In all these respects Bruno trans 
forms the orthodox Cusanus conception of a created 
and finite world ; although nowhere perhaps has the 
idea of a creation been more skilfully woven into a 
profound philosophical system than in the Cardinal s 
quaint dialogues. The Cusan does not attempt the 
impossible, to account for the fact of creation " God 
comprehends (or contains) all things, for all things are 
in Him, and He unfolds all things out of Himself, for 
in all things He lives" ; but the essence and the process 
of the comprehension and the unfolding are unknow 
able by us, just as we can never understand how chance 
comes to be united with necessity (creation) in the world. 
It is to this incomprehensible partnership that the im 
perfections of created things are attributed. In its 
reality the universe is finite, limited ; in its possibility 
(i.e. its idea] it is infinite, but only privatively infinite 

that is, God could still call a more perfect universe 
into existence than it has actually pleased Him to do. 
Only He, as the Absolute Greatest, is infinite in the 
full negative sense, i.e. that which can neither be nor be 
thought greater than it is. Here Bruno s theory is in 
complete contrast with that of the Cusan. There are, 
however, many consequences that both alike have 
drawn, as that no two things in the universe are wholly 
and in all respects alike (the identity of indiscernible j) ; 
each thing expresses the nature of the whole in a special 
way, but all things may be arranged in graduated 
scales from the lowest to the highest, or from any one 
to any other, i.e. there are no absolute differences, only 
differences of degree. Nor are there absolute centres in 
the universe, or in any of the worlds, nor perfect figures 

thus there are no perfect circles described, e.g. by the 


planets, in nature. A further corollary was that the 
whole is mirrored in each of the parts, as each parti 
cular thing partakes of the soul or creative force of all ; 
each does not, however, mirror or reflect the Divine 
nature with the same adequacy as every other ; some 
do so more perfectly than others, man most perfectly of 
all. 1 Cusanus did not definitely accept the suggestion 
of a soul of the universe, analogous in its relation to 
the world to the soul of man in the body ; still less did 
he identify it with God, as Bruno tended more and 
more to do. Hence he escaped the fantastical conse 
quences of the belief in Universal Animism, which 
were drawn without reserve by the Renaissance writers 
the consequence, e.g. that if one soul, one nature, 
pervades all things, and is the life of all things, then 
out of each may be produced any other out of lead, 
gold, etc. On the other hand, the four elements at 
least were different forms of the same fundamental 
being, and might be produced each out of the other ; 
and, in common with Bruno, Cusanus held the pre- 
Aristotelian belief in Atomism : there cannot be division 
of anything, cube or surface, or line ad infinitum ; ulti 
mately there must in each kind be a minimum, 2 an 
atom, beyond which we cannot in fact go, although to 
thought it may be still further divisible ; so there is in 
every figure, in every kind of thing, a definite number 
of atoms. It was partly this thought, partly also the 
mystical value from time immemorial given to the 
different numbers and geometrical figures, that led both 
Cusanus and Bruno to look to mathematics and geo 
metry for the true method or organon of natural 
science. " Number is the natural and fruitful principle 

1 Cusanus, De Ludo glcbi, bit. i. 
2 Cusanus, De Idkta, iii. (De Mer.te, 9). 


of the understanding s activity ; irrational beings do 
not number. But number is nothing but the unfolding 
of the understanding. Without it the understanding 
would have none of the results to which it attains. . . 
Nothing can exist before number, for all that goes 
beyond the simplest unity is in its fashion a composite, 
and, therefore, without number is unthinkable, for mul 
titude, difference, and relation of parts arise from 
number." In both again human knowledge proceeds 
inversely as creation (or emanation) from number, the 
many, back through successive grades of simplicity to 
the one highest, most simple, God, in whom are all 
things complicitly (without number). " What appears 
to us as atter another, successive, is by no means after 
in Thy Thought, which is eternity itself. The single 
thought, which is Thy word, embraces (complicat) all 
and each in itself, Thy single word cannot be manifold, 
opposite, changeable. ... In the eternity in which 
Thou thinkest, coincides all the after another of time, 
with the now of eternity. There is, therefore, no past 
nor future where future and past coincide with the 
present." The merely logical understanding, that 
which is based upon sense and requires sense-images 
for its material, is inadequate to this highest knowledge, 
gives approximation merely, and we are thrown back 
upon mystical intuition on the one hand, reasoned faith 
on the other, for our insight into the true nature of the 
One and the All. 3 

Other influences which gave direction to Bruno s 
heim. genius belong rather to physical science and pseudo- 
science than to philosophical theory. Cornelius Agrippa 
of Nettesheim (1487-1535), the scholarly adventurer, 

1 Cusanus, De Conjectures, i. 4. 
- Id. D: Pis -OK Dei, 10. 3 Id. DC Vtr.atione Sapient iae. 


the Faust who acquired all the knowledge and most 
of the arts of his time, wrote a compendium and 
justification (from Neoplatonist philosophy) of magical 
practices, 1 and at the close of his life the great declama 
tion " on the uncertainty and vanity of all sciences and 
arts," a plea for the simple life and the simple gospel. 
The De occulta philosophia is the chief source from 
which Bruno drew the fantastical lore of the De 
Monade? The satires upon Asinity, as the chief 
human virtue, in the Spaccio and the Cabala, directed 
as they are against blind faith without works or wisdom, 
found their occasion at least in Agrippa s praise of the 
Ass (in the De Vanitate] as the mouthpiece of God in 
the story of Balaam, and the bearer of Christ in the 
New Testament history. 

Paracelsus 4 proposed a reform of medicine on Neo- Paracelsus 
platonist principles, attacking the Galenian doctrine of 
the Four Humours, which was based on the four 
elements of the Aristotelians (the warm and the cold, 
the moist and the dry). His own more " natural " 
theory made salt, sulphur, and mercury the (chemical) 
elements of all things those which in living organisms 
were vivified and directed by an inner spirit (e.g. 
the Archaeus in man), a direct emanation from the 
soul of the universe. Through their common con 
stitution, and the spirit that infused all things alike, 
there was a subtle, mysterious sympathy between the 
microcosm and the macrocosm, the individual body 
and the universe, and it was by the study of the 
relations (magical, astrological, and the rest) between 
the stars and the things of earth, between the 

1 De occulta philosophia. a De Vanitate Sclent larum, 

3 Tocco. Font: piu recent i, etc. p. 534. 
4 Theophrastus Bombastes von Hohenheim, 1493-1541. 


different metals and the body of man, that 
Paracelsus proposed to reform the art of medicine. 
Bruno, in the Causa, 1 praises Paracelsus for his " philo 
sophical " treatment of medicine, that he did not 
rest content with the three chemical principles alone for 
explanation of the different vital phenomena, but 
sought the true principle of life everywhere in a spirit 
or soul. He is one of the builders of the temple 
of wisdom, ad miraculum medicus? In his magical 
writings and in the De Monade, Bruno is largely 
indebted for materials to Paracelsus. The same 
general tendency, the desire for a return to nature and 
to sense-observation as opposed to the authority of 
Aristotle, and to the cult of logical or grammatical 

Canianus. subtleties, is found also in Cardan. 3 In his work 
there is the same mixture of mathematics and physical 
science with theology, magic, and Neoplatonism, and 
to him Bruno owes many of his superstitions. The 

Teiesio. more profound Telesio also (who before Bruno " made 
honourable war upon Aristotle ") 4 attempted, in 
dependently of all authority, from sense - knowledge 
and induction alone, to penetrate the mysteries of 

Copemicu?. Only one name remains with which that of Bruno 
is indelibly associated that of Copernicus, whose De 
orbium coelestium Revolutionibus was published in 
1543. It was his theory of the solar system, coinciding 
as it seemed with that of the most ancient philosophers, 

1 Lag. 247. 

- i. i. 17. In the Sig. Sig. ii. 2. 181, he is put forward as an example of the 
value of the life of solitude : " Paracelsus, who glories more in the title of hermit 
than in that of doctor or master, became a leader and author among physicians, 
second to none " ; a reference to the title of Eremita, which Paracelsus took, how 
ever, from his birthplace Einsiedeln, and to his well known and strongly expressed 
contempt for the learning of books. 3 1501-1576 A.D. 

4 The first two books of the Denatura rerum were published in 1565. 


that gave the decisive trend to Bruno s thought, 
holding him fast to the one all-important fact that the 
earth is not the centre of the universe but one of its 
humblest members. Without the solid arguments of 
Copernicus, Bruno s superb conception of the cosmic 
system would have remained a dream, an intuition 
of genius, rather than a well-grounded forecast of 
modern scientific discovery. " There is more under 
standing," said Bruno, " in two of his chapters than in 
the whole philosophy of nature of Aristotle and all the 
Peripatetics. 1 Grave, thoughtful, careful, and mature 
in mind, not inferior to any of the astronomers that 
went before him in natural judgment far superior to 
Ptolemy, Hipparch, Eudoxus, and all the others that 
have walked in their footsteps a height he attained by 
freeing himself from the prejudices, not to say blindness, 
of the vulgar philosophy. Yet he did not get beyond 
it ; being more a student of mathematics than of 
nature, he was unable wholly to uproot all unfitting, 
vain principles, to solve all contrary difficulties, liberate 
both himself and others from so many vain inquiries, 
and fix their contemplation on things abiding and sure. 
With all that, who can sufficiently appraise the greatness 
of this German, who paid little heed to the foolish 
multitude, and stood solid against the torrent of 
opposing belief. Although almost destitute of living 
reasons for weapons, he took up those cast-off and 
rusty fragments that he could get to his hand from 
antiquity ; repolished them, brought the pieces together, 
mended them, so that through his arguments mathe 
matical rather than physical though they were he 
made a cause that had been ridiculed, despised, 
neglected, to be honoured and prized, to seem more 

1 0{>. Lat. i. i. 17. 



probable than its contrary, and certainly more suitable 
and expeditious for calculation." a Copernicus had put 
forward the theory as a hypothesis merely, and had 
shown how much more simply the different positions of 
the sun and planets as seen from the earth could be 
explained by it, and how much more accurately they 
could be calculated. In the Epistle prefixed to his 
work (said by Bruno not to be by Copernicus himself), 
the reader was warned of the folly of taking this 
hypothesis as true. To Bruno the contrary of the 
hypothesis was absurd. Bruno did not appreciate the 
mathematical proofs of Copernicus, and constantly 
spoke of him as too much of a mathematician, too 
little of a physicist : his own mathematical demonstra 
tions were, however, much less successful than those of 
his predecessor. 2 

1 Cei:a, Lng. 124. 

- Bruno praiws and gives long extracts from Copernicus in the DC I mmeaio 
bk. in. ch. 9. 



IT is the object of this chapter to give some account of 
the speculations on nature and spirit which occupied 
Bruno during his first year in England, and which 
show how hard he was striving to pierce through the 
shell of mediaeval thought in which his mind was 
encased. However fiercely he struggled to gain his 
freedom, it was impossible that he should do so quite at 
once. With all his contemporaries, he was imbued in 
Aristotle s ways of thought, and the problems he set 
himself to answer were largely determined for him by 
Aristotle. The categories with which he wrought, 
" principle," " cause," " form," " matter," " potency," 
" act," " subject," were those of the Stagirite, and 
were open, therefore, to the same charge of unfruitful- 
ness. On the other hand, while the outward form of 
Bruno s philosophy, and to a certain extent its matter 
also, were essentially Aristotelian, the spirit which 
infused it all was not so ; the emotion and enthusiasm 
with which he wrote savoured rather of the fire of 
Plato than of the logical mind of his successor ; and 
throughout, the new conception of nature and of mind 
which belongs to modern philosophy was struggling to 
the light. 

1 De la Causa, etc. 


From his Platonist masters Bruno had learned that 
the Highest or First Principle was unknowable to man, 
being beyond the reach of his senses and of his under 
standing alike : a complete systematisation of knowledge 
was therefore impossible. A philosophy of nature had 
to seek only for physical (i.e. real or "immanent") 
causes or principles ; these might depend, indeed, upon 
the highest and first principle or cause, but the depend 
ence was not so close that the knowledge of the former 
gave us knowledge of the latter : no single system of 
knowledge could embrace both. Knowing the universe, 
we yet knew nothing of the essence or substance of its 
first cause, any more than that of the sculptor Apelles 
could be inferred from the statue he had made. The 
things of nature, although effects of the divine opera 
tion, became the remotest accidents, when regarded as 
means to the knowledge of the divine supernatural 
Essence. " We have still less ground for knowing it 
than for knowing Apelles from his finished statues, 
for all of these we may see, and examine, part by part, 
but not the great and infinite effect of the divine 
potency." The First Principle is, therefore, the 
concern of the moralist and of the theologian, as 
revealed to them by the gods, or declared to them 
through the inspired knowledge of diviner men and of 
the prophets. On the other hand, in the universe we 
have the infinite image of God, and it is, therefore, 
possible through it to obtain an approximate knowledge 
of Him : " the magnificent stars and shining bodies, 
which are so many inhabited worlds, and animate beings 
or deities, worlds similar to that which contains 
ourselves, must depend, since they are composite and 
capable of dissolution, upon a principle and cause ; and 

1 Lag. 229. 

ir THE CAUSA 155 

consequently, by their greatness, their life and work, 
they show forth and preach the majesty of this first 
principle and cause." 1 Thus the starting-point of 
Bruno s mature philosophy is nature as the vestige or 
imprint of divinity, and divinity is considered only " as 
nature itself or as reflected in nature " : the presence of 
a transcendent principle above and beyond nature is, 
indeed, premised to the discussion of the Causa, but it 
is no longer admitted that its study falls within the 
philosopher s scope, nor does it ever hamper or in any 
way influence the course of the argument. So far from 
that, we find, at the completion of the dialogue, that 
we have arrived at an immanent principle or divinity, 
which renders the transcendent superfluous. 

The purpose of the Causa,- Bruno s first purely 
philosophical work, was to determine what are the 
creative and constitutive principles of the natural 
world, its efficient cause, its end, its form, its matter, 
and its unity ; or, in other words, to lay down the 
" foundations of knowledge," to give an outline- 
picture of reality the details of which it was left to 
experience and observation to fill in. Bruno begins 
by laying down certain distinctions, which, however, 
do not, in the end, prove very binding. First, a 
principle (principio] is that which enters, intrin 
sically, into the constitution of a thing, while a 
cause concurs from without in its production ; thus, 
matter and form, which are principles rather than 
causes, are the elements of which a thing is composed 
and into which it is resolved. A cause, on the other 
hand, remains outside of the resultant object for ex 
ample, the efficient, creating cause, and the end or final 
cause for which the thing is ordained. Principle is the 

1 Lag. 2ZQ. " De la Causa, principle et UKO, 1584. 


more general term, for " in Nature, not everything that 
is principle, is also cause : the point is principle of 
the line, not cause ; the instant, of the event ; the 
starting-point, of the movement ; the premisses, of 
the argument." 1 God is both principle and cause, 
but from different points of view : " He is first 
principle in so far as all things are posterior to him in 
nature, duration, or dignity ; he is first cause in so far 
as all things are distinguished from him as effect from 
efficient, thing produced from producer. The points 
of view are different, for not always is the prior and 
more worthy a cause of that which is posterior and less 
worthy ; and not always is the cause prior and more 
worthy than that which is caused." There are really 
two marks of a principle given by Bruno, priority in 
worth, and internality ; but, generally, a principle is 
that without which a thing could not come into being, 
and which if taken away would take away also the 
being of the thing. To a cause the latter half of this 
description would not apply, as it remains outside of 
the effect. Thus God as principle is immanent in all 
things, and is the higher source from which they proceed. 
This twofold interpretation of the relation of God to 
nature and to natural things was already inherent in 
the Neoplatonic doctrine which formed Bruno s starting- 
point, since God as the source of emanation was outside 
of the emanations themselves, and was unaffected by 
them ; on the other hand, the gradations in the 
different stages of emanation, and the possibility of 

1 Lag. 230. 

~ Ib. The terms correspond to Aristotle s eipx 7 ? aru O.ITIOV, respectively ; no clear 
distinction was drawn between their meanings by Aristotle, however. Bruno s aim 
is to contrast the inwardly active, immanent principle of life and of movement with the 
transient, outwardly active cause, and to interpret nature, as a whole, as the mani 
festation of some such inward principle, rather than as a mechanical system to which 
the impulse was given from without. 


rising from the lowest to the highest, to the One above 
all, implied the existence of somewhat of the One as a 
common nature in all. The two points of view were, 
however, held apart, and the contradiction between 
them was not consciously perceived, so that the coinci 
dence of nature between God as the source, and matter 
as the lowest emanation, never suggested itself ; on the 
contrary, their complete opposition was maintained 
until Bruno put forward his theory of the "divinity 
of matter," which forms the real theme of the Causa. 

The efficient cause of the natural world is the Efficient 
universal intelligence, " the first and principal faculty ^turc? 
of the soul of the world." This intellectus universalis 
is to natural things as our intellect to the thoughts 
of our mind, and Bruno identifies it with the Demiurge 
of the Platonists, and the "seed-sower" of the Magi, 
for it impregnates matter with all " forms " : it is an 
artefice interno, for it works from within in giving form 
and figure to matter, as the seed or root from within 
sends forth the stem, the stem the branches, the 
branches the formed twigs, and these the buds ; " from 
within leaves, flowers, fruit are formed, figured, 
patterned ; from within again in due time the sap is 
recalled from leaves and fruit to twigs, from twigs to 
branches, from these to stem, from stem to root. . . . 
But how much greater an artificer is he that works 
not in any single part of matter alone, but continually 
and in all." x The intellectus is both external and 
internal to any particular being ; i.e. it is not a part 
of any particular existence, is not exhausted by it, 
therefore is so far external to it ; on the other hand, 

1 Lag. 231. 38. The Intellects is identified also with the Pythagorean, world- 
mover (Verg. Aeneid, vi. 726) ; the " World s Eye " of the Orphic Poems ; the 
" distinguisher " of Empedocles ; the " Father and Progenitor of all things " of Plotinus. 

cause or 


it does not act upon matter from without, but from 
within, 1 the efficient cause is at the same time an 
inward principle. 

The formal _cause of nature is the ideal reason : 

cause or i r i_ 

nature. before the intelligence can produce species or particular 
things, can bring them forth from the potentiality of 
matter into reality, it must contain them "formally," i.e. 
ideally, in itself, as the sculptor cannot mould different 
statues without having first thought out their different 
forms. 2 This ideal reason is the Idea ante rem of the 
Scholastics. The ideas of the intelligence are not, 
as such, the things of nature, they are the models by 
which the intellect guides nature in its production of 
individual things. The final cause which the intellect 

Final cause, sets before itself is the perfection of the universe, i.e. 
that all possible forms may have actual existence 
in the different portions of matter ; from its joy in 
this end proceeds its ceaseless activity in the production 
of forms out of matter. 3 

Among constitutive principles or elements of things, 

Form. the intellects again takes the foremost place as the 
form ; for, as we have seen, it is both extrinsic and 
intrinsic to the nature of things, . . ." the soul is 
in the body as the pilot in the ship ; in so far as he is 
moved along with it, he is part of the ship, but in so 
far as he governs and guides it, he is not a part but a 
separate agent ; so the soul of the universe, in so far 
as it animates and gives form to things, is intrinsic 
formal principle ; in so far as it directs and governs, 
it is not part, nor principle, but cause." 4 As external, 
the soul of the world is independent of matter, and 
untouched by its defects : it is only the perfections 

1 Lag. 232. 24. * Lag. 232. 33 ff. 

3 On Perfection, -vide infru, p. 199. 4 Lag. 233. 27. Cf. Arist. De Anima, ii. i. 


of the lower that are present in the higher being, and 
that to a higher degree. As internal it constitutes the 
soul in all things down to the very lowest, although 
in these it is repressed or latent. This all-presence 
of soul does not mean, however, that each particular 
thing, e.g. a table or garment, is, as such, a living and 
sensible being, but only that in everything, however 
small or insignificant, there is a portion or share of 
spirit, animating it, and this, " if it find a pro 
perly disposed subject, may extend itself so as to 
become plant or animal, and may receive the limbs 
of any body whatsoever, such as is commonly 
said to be animate." Even the smallest material 
body, therefore, has in it the potentiality of life and 

It follows that there are, strictly speaking, only Substance 
two substances, matter and spirit : all particular things 
result from the composition in varying degrees of 
these two are therefore mere " accidents," and have 
no abiding reality. Bruno joins issue in this with the 
Peripatetics, to whom the " real man," for example, 
is a composite of body and soul, or the true soul is 
the perfection or actualisation of the living body, or 
is a resultant from a certain harmony of form and 
of limbs. 1 Death or dissolution would mean to them 
the loss of their being ; whereas neither " body nor 
soul need fear death, for both matter and form are 
constant abiding principles." 2 This theory of sub 
stance and of immortality was regarded by Bruno 
as one of the cardinal points of his philosophy, 3 and 
one in which he differed most widely from Aristotle, 
as interpreted by him, and from the Aristotelians. Its 
statement, and the criticism of the Peripatetics, occur 

1 Cl". Arist. De An ma, ii. ch. I and 2. ~ Lag. 23$. 34. 8 Cf. Lucretiuf. 


again and again throughout the works, and he believed 
the removal from man of the fear of death to be one 
of the greatest results of his teaching. " This spirit, 
being persistent along with matter and these being 
the one and the other indissoluble, it is impossible 
that anything should in any respect see corruption or 
come to death, in its substance, although in certain 
accidents everything changes face, and passes now into 
one composition, now into another, through now one 
disposition, now another, leaving off or taking up 
now this now that existence. Aristotelians, Platonists, 
and other sophists have not understood what the sub 
stance of things is. In natural things that which they 
call substance, apart from matter, is pure accident. 
When we know what/orw really is, we know what is 
life and what is death ; and, the vain and puerile fear 
of the latter passing from us, we experience some of 
that blessedness which our philosophy brings with it, 
inasmuch as it lifts the dark veil of foolish sentiment 
concerning Orcus and the insatiable Charon, that wrests 
from us or empoisons all that is sweetest in our lives." 

There is a certain ambiguity in the description of 
substance. Whether is the spiritual unity which is 
placed over against matter itself substance, or is it 
rather the particular souls which are part of it, and 
which are thus immortal, changing only the form of 
composition into which they enter ? In this dialogue 
it seems Bruno is speaking only of the world-soul, 2 
but in later works, especially in the Spaccio and De 
Minima, the substantiality and immortality of the 
individual soul are categorically asserted. In the 

1 Lag. 202. 40. 

2 Cf e p- 218. 12, when the form or soul is said to be one in all things, and difter- 

o -* 

ences are said to arise from the dispositions of matter. 


Causa however, Bruno maintains quite clearly the 
substantiality of the universal soul alone, the finite 
individual being merely one of the modes of its de 
termination in matter. 1 

Having shown that no part of matter is ever entirely 
without " form," Bruno leaves aside for the present the 
question whether all form (Spirit) is equally accompanied 
by matter. The form or world-soul is not more than 
one, for all numerical multiplication depends on matter. 
It is in itself unchanging ; only the objects vary, the 
different portions of matter into which it enters : and 
although in the object it is the spirit or form which 
causes the part to differ from the whole, yet / / does 
not differ in the part or in the whole. There are 
differences of aspect only, according as it is regarded as 
(0) subsisting in itself, or as () the actuality and per 
fection of some object, or as (c) referred to different 
objects with different dispositions. 2 That is, Spirit in 
itself, the universal Spirit, the Spirit or Soul of a 
particular animate being, the Spirits or Souls of a number 
of different beings (a system of beings), these are all the 
same thing looked at from different points of view. It 
is the same unique Spirit which determines the life of the 
human individual, the development of the human race 
as a whole, and the persistence of the world ; the soul of 
Caesar and the spirit of humanity are one with the soul 
of the universe. The relation of spirit to matter in 
Bruno s philosophy is more difficult to understand. 
Spirit is said to be neither external to nor mixed 
with matter, nor inherent in it, but " inexistent," i.e. 
associated with or present to it. Moreover it is defined 
and determined by matter, because having in itself 
power to realise particular things of innumerable kinds, 

1 Vide infra, ch. 5. 2 Lag. 240. z8. 



it " contracts " or limits itself to realise a given indi 
vidual ; and on the other side the potency of matter, 
which is indeterminate, and capable of any form whatso 
ever, is " determined " to one particular kind ; so that 
the one is cause of the definition and determination of 
the other. Thus particular bodies are modes (de 
terminations) of spirit and also of matter. As the 
universal form, spirit is all-present throughout the 
universe, not however materially or in extension, 
but spiritually, i.e. intensively. Bruno s favourite 
illustration is that of a voice or utterance " imagine a 
voice which is wholly in the whole of a room, and in 
every part of it ; everywhere it is heard wholly, as these 
words which I speak are understood wholly by all, and 
would be even if there were a thousand present ; and if 
my voice could reach to all the world, it would be all 
in all." So the soul is individual, not as a point is, but, 
analogously to a voice, or utterance, filling the universe. 
It is clear from these passages that the finite soul has no 
more reality in this phase of Bruno s pantheism than in 
Spinoza s ; not only is the world-soul one as unique, but 
it is also one as indivisible there are no parts of it : 
it is wholly in each of the parts of the universe in each 
of its realisations. The finite individual, as this par 
ticular soul in this particular body, is accordingly a mere 
accident, and passes away as all accidents do ; its 
existence is due chiefly to matter, by the varying " dis 
positions " of which the universal form is " determined " 
to this or that particular form ; matter is in general the 
source of all particularity, all number and measure. 
The difficulty underlying this attribution of diversity 
to a matter which is supposed to be, apart from the 
form, undetermined and undifferentiated, has been re- 

1 Lag. 242. 7. 


ferred to above. It is emphasised in the argument to 
this part of the Causa given in the introductory 
epistle, 1 where matter, although formless in itself, is 
spoken of as " consisting in diverse grades of active 
and passive qualities ? " Bruno seems, however, at this 
time unconscious of the difficulty. Certainly from pure 
matter and pure form, body and spirit, standing over 
against one another, no start could be made. Diversity 
had to come into the world somehow. 

We have not yet solved the problem as to the 
relation between these two principles themselves matter 
and form. Bruno confesses to have held at one period 
the "Epicurean view that matter was the only substance, 
the forms being merely accidental dispositions of it ; but 
on further consideration he was compelled to recognise 
a formal as well as a material substance." 2 In fact, 
however, both form and matter tend as the philosophy 
develops to coincide in a higher unity which is at last 
the ultimate reality. The "proof" of "Matter" is The deduc- 
from the analogy between Nature and Art. All who ^tter. 
have attempted, said Bruno, to distinguish matter from 
form have made use of the analogy of the arts (e.g. the 
Pythagoreans, Platonists, Peripatetics). Take some art 
such as that of the wood-worker ; in all its forms and 
all its operations it has as subject (or material) wood 
as the iron-worker has iron ; the tailor, cloth. All these 
arts produce each in its own material various pictures, 
arrangements, figures, none of which is proper or natural 
to that material. So Nature, which art resembles, must 

1 Eflst. Proem., Lag. 203. 19. When he wrote the De Minima the question had 
at least presented itself to Bruno as requiring solution : -vide bk. iv. (Op. Lot. i. 3. 
274). Individual differences are referred to two possible sources the different com 
positions of the forms or ideal types, and the varied dispositions of matter 5 and it is 
suggested that the latter of these may derive from the former. 

a Lag. 246. 37. 


have for its operations a certain matter (material) ; for 
no agent intending to make something can work without 
something of which to make it, or wishing to act can do 
so without something on which to act ; there is there 
fore a species of subject or material, of which and in 
which nature effectuates its operation, its work, and 
which is by it formed in the many forms presented to 
the eye of reflection. And as wood by itself has not 
any artificial form, but may have any or all through the 
action of the wood-worker, so the matter of which we 
speak, of itself and in its own nature, has not any natural 
form, but may have any or all through the agent, the 
active principle of nature. This natural matter or 
material is imperceptible, differing so from the material 
of art, because the matter of nature has absolutely no 
form, whereas the matter of art is a thing already formed 
by nature. Art can operate only upon the surface of 
things formed by nature, as wood, iron, stone, wool, 
and similar things ; but nature operates from the centre 
so to speak, of its subject, or matter, which in itself is 
wholly devoid of form. The subjects of the arts are 
many of nature one ; for those being diversely formed 
by nature, are different and various, while the latter, 
not being formed at all, is entirely indifferent, every 
difference and variety being due to the form. 1 As it is 
absolutely formless, this matter cannot be perceived by 
the senses, which are the media of natural forms, but 
only by the eye of reason. As visible matter, that of 
art, remains the same under countless variations of form, 
the form of a tree becoming that of a trunk, of a beam, 
of a table, a chair, a stool, a comb, its nature as wood 
continuing throughout ; so in nature that which was 

1 Lag. 248. 17. The apparent conflict between this and the preceding pages will 
resolve itself below. 


seed becomes herb ; the herb, corn in the ear ; the corn, 
bread ; the bread, bile ; bile, blood ; blood again seed, an 
embryo, a man, a corpse, earth, stone, or other things, 
and so through all natural forms. There must then be 
one and the same thing which in itself is not stone nor 
earth, nor corpse, nor man, nor embryo, nor blood, nor 
anything else. 1 So the Pythagorean Timaeus 2 inferred, 
from the transmutations of the elements one into 
another, earth into water, the dry into the moist, a 
tertium quid, which was neither moist nor dry, but 
became subject now of the one, now of the other nature. 
Otherwise the earth would have gone to nothing and 
the water come from nothing, which is impossible. 
Thus nothing is ever annihilated but the accidental, the 
exterior, material form, both matter and the substantial 
form, i.e. spirit, being eternal. 

The argument has proved that there is a something, Natura 

i i >> r T i i i i forms. 

the " 1 know not what or Locke, which is the sub 
stance of all natural things, " natural forms." We have 
now to see in what relation this substance stands to the 
forms, the differences, which are on its surface. All 
natural forms dissolve in matter, and come again in 
matter, so that nothing is really " constant, firm, eternal, 
or deserving of the name of a principle, but matter : 
besides that the forms have no existence without matter, 
in it they are generated and decay, from it they issue, 
into it are received again ; therefore matter, which 
remains always the same and always fruitful, must be 
regarded as the only substantial principle, as that which 
always is and always abides ; and the forms but as 
varying dispositions of matter, which come and go, 
cease and are renewed ; therefore they have no claim to 
be principles." 3 

1 Lag. 249. 31. 2 Pseuclo-Timaeus, 94 A. 3 Lag. 253. n. 


The matter or material of which Bruno here speaks 
is what afterwards was called extension, or the extended 
substance, and the natural forms are the various indi 
vidual shapes or bodies of nature : both from the 
transformations of one into the other, and again from 
the fact that the particular forms come into being and 
cease to exist, it was argued that there must be an 
underlying something, material indeed, but different 
from all the things we know or see, indifferently capable 
of becoming any one of them, persisting throughout 
their becoming, their change, and their ceasing to exist, 
i.e. a permanent reality. 

Matter a? Matter, however, meant not only "subject" or 
tiaiity. substrate, but also " potentiality," or possibility : and 
we have to consider it in this light also. Everything 
that exists is therefore possible, and the possibility of 
coming into existence, " passive potency," implies 
that of bringing into existence " active potentiality 
or power " ; the one is never without the other, 
First prin- not even in the first principle. Thus the first prin- 
ab^iuTe. ciple is all that which it has the possibility of being 
in it reality and possibility are one ; whereas a stone, 
e.g. is not all that it has the possibility of being, for it 
is not lime, nor vase, nor dust, nor grass. That which 
is all that it can be, the Absolute, is also all that any 
other thing is or can be : it embraces all being within 
itself. Other things are not thus absolute, but limited 
to one reality at a time, i.e. one specific and particular 
existence. They can be more only through succession 
and change, f " Every possibility and actuality that in 
the (first) principle is as it were complicate, united, one, 
in other things is explicate, dispersed, many. The 
universe, which is the great simulacrum and image (of 
the first principle) is it also all that which it may be 


in its kinds and principal members, as containing all 
matter, to which no element of the whole (the universal) 
form can be added, in which no phase of that form is 
ever wanting ; but it is not all that which it may be in 
its differences, its modes, properties, and individuals ; 
thus it is a mere shadow of the first reality, and first 
potency, and so far in it reality and possibility are not 
the same absolutely, that no part of it is all that which 
it may be : besides that, as we have said, the universe is 
all that it may be only in explicitness, dispersion, dis 
tinctness, whereas its principle is so unitedly and in 
differently, for in it all is all, and the same, simply, 
without difference or distinction." 

Bruno works out at considerable length the paradoxes 
to which this identity of all possibility and all reality 
in the first principle lead. Thus, in magnitude it is both 
greatest and least, and as in magnitude, so in goodness, 
in beauty ; the sun would fitly represent such a 
principle if it were at the same moment in all parts of 
the universe, if its motion were so swift that it was 
everywhere at once, and therefore motionless. God, 
however, is not only all that the sun may be, but also 
all that everything else may be "potency of all 
potencies, reality of all realities, life of all lives, soul of 
all souls, being of all beings." That which elsewhere is 
contrary and opposite, is in Him one and the same. 2 
Bruno has brought us back in a curious way to the 
very first principle which he proposed to exclude from 
contemplation : it can be understood, it is true, only by 
negations, for our intellect cannot measure itself with 
the immeasurable : we can form no image or idea of a 
great that might not be greater. But here follows one 
of the most vital steps in his philosophy : As the 

1 Lag. 257, 258. 2 Lag. 258-260. 


absolute possibility, the first principle becomes itself 
matter, and as there is no possibility without an actuality, 
present or to come, the absolute possibility is also 
Matter ; nd absolute reality, or matter and form coincide in the 
one. One. 1 We approach this conclusion first from the con 

sideration of matter as "subject " (substrate). From the 
changes of one natural substance into others we inferred 
a universal substrate, undifferentiated, which formed at 
once the basis of the community of nature in things, 
Matter or and the ground of their difference. 2 But the spiritual 
U fthe and the corporeal worlds, also, as distinguished from 
one another, imply a common "subject" or substrate 
in which they are one or identical. Bruno refers, as we 
have seen, to Plotinus 3 as having held that distinction 
and difference imply a common ground or unity, and 
that " intelligible " distinctions are not exempt from 
this rule. " As man qua man is different from lion 
qua lion, but in the common nature of animal or of 
corporeal substance they are one and the same, so the 
matter of things corporeal, as such, is different from the 
matter of things incorporeal, as such : but from another 
point of view it is the same matter which in dimensions 
or extension is corporeal matter, and which when 
without dimensions or extension is an incorporeal sub 
stance. In things eternal (spiritual) there is one matter 
in one simple realisation, in things variable (corporeal) 
matter has now one, now another ; in the former, it has 
at one time and all together all that which it can have, 
and is all that it may be ; in the latter, at many times, 
on different occasions, and in succession. The former 
has all species of figure and dimension, and because 
it has all, it has none : for that which is so many 
diverse things, cannot be any one of them in particular. 

1 Lag. 261. 2 Lag. 266. 3 Sufra, ch. i. Cf. Plotinus, Ennead, ii. 4. 4. 


That which is all must include every particular exist 
ence. 1 In it, absolute potency and absolute actuality, 
matter and form, do not differ at all ; it is the extreme 
of purity, simplicity, individuality, and unity, because it 
is absolutely all. It is individual in the highest sense. 
Being both matter and form, it is neither : as matter, it 
has all dimensions and none ; as form, it has all formal 
existence or qualities and none. The corporeal matter 
is contracted to this or that dimension, whereas 
spiritual matter is free (absoluta] of dimensions, there 
fore is both above all, and comprising all. Thus matter 
in itself, being without dimensions, is indivisible : it 
acquires dimensions according to the nature of the form 
it receives : the dimensions under the human form 
differ from those under the horse form, and from those 
under the olive or the myrtle form. But before it can 
be under any of these forms, it must have in faculty all 
their dimensions, as it has the possibility or potency of 
receiving all the forms. In itself it includes rather than 
excludes all dimensions, because it does not receive them 
as from without, but sends them, brings them forth, 
from itself, as from the womb." 2 In other words, 
Nature, under one aspect, is a spiritual unity, in which 
are comprised all possible differences, or all separate 
existences : under another it is these many existences 
themselves, in each of which, in succession, all differ 
ences are " realised," all modes come into being : and 
finally, under another aspect, it is the force which brings 
forth the separate forms or existences out of the 
formless, indeterminate, undifferentiated unity of being, 
or God. 

The two kinds of matter, or potentiality, the lower 

1 Lag. 269. 
2 Lag. 268-271. Bruno refers here to Averroes, and especially to Plotinus, v. ch. i. 


and the higher, are thus essentially one ; so we reach 
the notion, not indeed of "the highest and best 
principle," as Bruno is again careful to remind us, but 
of the soul of the world, as reality of all, and potency 
of all, and all in all. Thus in the end, although in 
dividuals are innumerable, all things are one ; and the 
knowledge of this unity is the goal and limit of all 
philosophy of nature. 

The unity This unity, which embraces all the knowable, is the 
anybody, subject of the fifth dialogue of the Causa. The steps by 
which we have reached it are : first, the identification 
of a common nature, or substratum in things corporeal, 
corporeal matter, that which is common to all physical 
existences ; secondly, the recognition that there must 
similarly be a corresponding matter, or common ground 
of things spiritual ; there also differences exist and 
demand an identity ; and finally, corporeal matter and 
spiritual matter must themselves coincide in ground; 
there must exist that which is indifferently either, or 
which is the potency of both, and their " subject " or 
substratum. To the objection that to have dimensions 
is characteristic of matter, it is answered that each kind 
of matter has dimensions, only the latter has them 
absolutely, i.e. it has all indifferently, and therefore none, 
while the other is always " contracted " to one or other 
at each instant, but has all successively. We have seen 
that at the close of the fourth dialogue Bruno refers 
again to the first principle, unknowable, or knowable 
only by faith, and professes to abstain from any con 
sideration of it. It is quite clear, however, that Bruno 
could not have said of it anything other than he says 
of this unity of the corporeal and the spiritual itself. 
That which is implicitly all reality in such a manner 
that it is at the same time none of the particular forms 



of the real, is all things and none could not be other 
than the highest principle. Further, this unity already 
has the distinction applied formerly to the Highest 
Intelligence, it " is all," and at the same time it 
"creates all," in producing the forms out of itself. 
The unity then is only the world-soul from a special 
point of view, or the world-soul is at once the unity of 
itself and of the corporeal world. 1 This means that of 
the spiritual and the corporeal worlds each is a unity in 
itself, and each only a special aspect of a final unity 
which embraces both. It is no wonder then that 
Schelling found a congenial spirit in Bruno. The 
reality of this final matter or unity is moreover higher, 
truer, than that of any of the forms to which it gives 
birth, and finally it is divine. Little more is wanting 
to prove the entire superfluity of the theological highest 
principle. The unity (or matter) is by no means an 
" abstract " identity, but a concrete whole, which con 
tains all differentiation in itself, and a " dynamic " being, 
which produces, or realises, its own modes. " Deter 
minate, sensible, explicate existence is not the highest 
characteristic (raggione] of actuality, but is a thing 
consequent, an effect of the latter ; thus the principal 
essence of wood, e.g. the characteristic of its actuality, 
does not consist in its being bed ; but in its being 
of such a substance and consistency that it may be bed, 
bench, beam, idol, or anything formed of wood. 
Nature, however, from its material produces all things, 
not as art, by mechanical removal or addition of parts, 
but by separation, birth, efflux, as the Pythagoreans 
understood," Bruno adds Anaxagoras, Democritus, 
the Wise Men of Babylon, Moses ! " Rather, then, it 
contains the forms and includes them, than is empty of 

1 Compare the ambiguity in Spinoza s definition of mind in relation to body. 


them, or excludes them ; and matter, which makes 

explicit what it contains implicitly, ought to be called a 

Divine thing : it is the substance of nature." l Thus 

coinci.i- the One is the only ultimate reality ; it is neither matter 

ence of all _ J 

things in nor form, yet both together, implicitly. And it has 
no parts, or all parts, for all parts coincide in it, the 
smallest with the greatest, in it all particular things 
coincide with one another, and all differences. It has 
all possible existence and is therefore unchangeable, 
it has all perfections and therefore is infinitely perfect. 

" The universe is one, infinite, immovable. One 
is the absolute possibility, one the reality. One the 
form or soul, one matter or body. One the thing, one 
the ens. One the greatest and best, which can not be 
comprised, and therefore can neither be ended nor 
limited, and even so is infinite and unlimited, and con 
sequently immovable. It does not move locally, for 
there is no place outside of itself, to which it might 
transport itself (for it is the all). Of it is no generation, 
for there is no other existence which it can desire or 
expect, for it has all existence. Of it is no corrup 
tion, for there is no other thing to which it can 
change ; it is everything. It cannot grow less or 
greater, for it is infinite ; it cannot be added to, and it 
cannot be subtracted from, for the infinite has no 
proportional parts. It cannot be subject to mutation 
in any quality whatever, nor is there anything contrary 
to, or diverse from it, which may alter it, for in it all 
things are in harmony." In it height is not greater 
than length or depth ; hence by a kind of simile it may 
be called a sphere. It has no parts, for a part of the 
infinite must be infinite, and if it is infinite it concurs in 
one with the whole ; hence the universe is one, infinite, 

1 Lag. 273, 274. 2 L ag 277> 


without parts. Within it there is not part greater and 
part less, for one part, however great, has no greater 
proportion to the infinite than another, however small ; 
and therefore, in infinite duration, there is no difference 
between the hour and the day, between the day and the 
year, between the year and the century, between the 
century and the moment ; for moments and hours are 
not more in number than centuries, and those bear no 
less proportion to eternity than these. Similarly, in the 
immeasurable, the foot is not different from the yard, 
the yard from the mile, for in proportion to immensity, 
the mile is not nearer than the foot. Infinite hours are 
not more than infinite centuries, infinite feet are not of 
greater number than infinite miles. 1 Thus, Bruno 
frankly draws the conclusion, which is inherent in all 
pantheistic thought, that in the infinite all things are 
indifferent ; there are no proportional parts thereof in 

. , . _ ence of all 

it one is not greater nor better than another : " In things in 
comparison, similitude, union, identity with the infinite, the1 
one does not approach nearer by being a man than by 
being an ant, by being a star than by being a man. In 
the infinite these things are indifferent, and what I say 
of these holds of all other things or particular ex 
istences. Now if all these particular things in the 
infinite are not one and another, are not different, are 
not species, it necessarily follows that they are not 
number (i.e. not distinct) the universe is again an 
immovable, unchangeable one. If in it act does not 
differ from potency, then point, line, superficies and 
body do not differ in it (for each is potency of the 
other a line by motion may become a surface, a surface 
a body). In the infinite, then, point does not differ 
from body ; since the point is potency of body, it does not 

1 Lag. 278. 4. 


differ from body, where potency and act are one and the 
same thing. If point does not differ from body, centre 
from circumference, finite from infinite, the greatest from 
the least, then the universe, as we have said, is all centre, 
or the centre of the universe is everywhere ; or, again, 
the circumference is everywhere but the centre is 
nowhere." Thus, not only are the particular existences 
indifferent in the infinite : they have also in it no true 
reality, i.e. their existence is a purely relative one. 

We have now to consider the relation of particular 
things one to another. It follows from the argument 
that all things are in all ; each particular thing has the 
possibility of all reality, has all reality implicit in itself, 
but only one mode is at any particular time realised, and 
the life of particular things consists in their constant 
transmutation from one mode to another. While the 
universe comprehends all existence and all modes of 
existence, of particular things, each has all existence, 
but not all modes of existence, and cannot actually have 
all circumstances and accidents, for many forms are 
incompatible in the same subject, either as contraries or 
as belonging to diverse species. The same individual 
subject {supposito} cannot be under the accidents of 
horse and of man, under the dimensions of a plant and 
of an animal. Moreover, the universe comprehends 
all existence wholly, because outside of and beyond 
infinite existence there is nothing that exists, for there 
is no outside or beyond : of particular things on the 
other hand, each comprehends all existence, but not 
wholly, for beyond each are infinite others. But the 
ens, substance, essence of all is one, which being 
infinite and unlimited in its substance as in its duration, 
in its greatness as in its force, can neither be called 
principle nor resultant ; for as everything concurs in its 

of nature. 

ii OPTIMISM 175 

unity and identity, it is not relative, but absolute. In 
the one infinite, immovable, which is substance, ens, 
there is multitude, number ; and number, as " mode " of 
the ens, differentiates thing from thing ; it does not 
therefore make the ens to be more than one, but to be of 
many modes, forms, and figures. Hence " leaving the 
logicians to their vain imaginings," we find that all that 
makes difference and number is pure accident, pure 
figure, pure "complexion" ; every creation of whatso 
ever sort it may be is an alteration, the substance 
remaining always the same, for there is only One Being, 
divine, immortal. 1 

Thus all things are in the universe, the universe in Beauty, 

11 ^i t. j. J 11 harmony, 

all things ; we in it, it in us ; and so all concurs in a 
perfect unity. Therefore, cries Bruno, we need not be 
troubled in spirit, nor be afraid ; for this unity is one, 
stable, and always abides ; this one is eternal ; every 
aspect, every face, every other thing, is vanity, is as 
nought ; all that is outside of this One is nought. 
These philosophers have found the wisdom that they 
love, who have found this unity. Wisdom, truth, unity, 
are the same. All difference in bodies, difference of 
formation, complexion, figure, colour, or other property, 
is nothing but a varying aspect of one and the same 
substance, an aspect that changes, moves, passes away, 
of one immovable, abiding, and eternal being, in which 
are all forms, figures, members, but indistinct and " ag 
glomerated," just as in the seed, or germ, the arm is not 
distinct from the head, the sinew from the bone, and the 
distinction or "disglomeration" does not produce another 
and new substance, but only realises in act and fulfil 
ment certain qualities of the substance, already present. 
The coincidence of Bruno s doctrine with some of 

1 Lag. pp. z78-z8i. 


Spinoza s principal positions is striking, although their 
terms are different. The indeterminate all-comprising 
unity of Bruno is that which was afterwards called by 
Spinoza substance; its two aspects, material and spiritual 
substances with Bruno, are attributes in Spinoza, 
and finally, the innumerable finite and passing modes 
with both are mere accidents, and therefore do not 
determine any change in the one reality itself. In a 
subsequent chapter other more detailed resemblances 
will be pointed out in their bearing on the history of 
Spinoza s development. 

Coincidence The concluding portion of this dialogue and of the 
trarTel. work is taken up with the doctrine of the Coincidence 
of Contraries, which derives from that of the unity and 
coincidence of all differences, and which, although it 
was undoubtedly contained in his own system, Bruno 
obtained directly from Nicholas of Cusa. It is an 
indirect proof, from the side of particular things them 
selves, of the identity of all in the One. The first 
"Signs. illustrations are geometrical. 1 The straight line and 
the circle, or the straight line and the curve, are oppo- 
sites ; but in their elements, or their minima, they 
coincide, for, as Cusanus saw, there is no difference 
between the smallest possible arc and the smallest possible 
chord. Again, in the maximum there is no difference 
between the infinite circle and the straight line ; the 
greater a circle is, the more nearly it approximates to 
straightness. ... as a line which is greater in magnitude 
than another approximates more nearly to straightness, so 
the greatest of all ought to be superlatively, more than all, 
straight, so that in the end the infinite straight line is an 
infinite circle. Thus the maximum and the minimum 
come together in one existence, as has already been proved, 

1 Lag. 285. 35. 


and both in the maximum and in the minimum, con 
traries are one and indifferent. 

These geometrical illustrations are " signs " of the 
identity of contraries, those which follow are called by 
Bruno a verifications," l the first of which is taken from "Verifica- 
the primary qualities of bodies. The element of heat, its 
" principle," must be indivisible it cannot have differ 
ences within itself, and can be neither hot nor cold, 
therefore it is an identity of hot and cold. " One con 
trary is the principle or starting-point of the other, 
and therefore transmutations are circular, because there 
is a substrate, principle, term, continuation and con 
currence of both. So minimal warmth and minimal 
cold are the same. The movement towards cold takes 
its beginning from the limit of greatest heat (its " prin 
ciple " in another sense). Thus not only do the two 
maxima sometimes concur in resistance, the two minima 
in concordance, but even the maximum and the minimum 
concur through the succession of transmutations. Doctors 
fear when one is in the best of health ; it is in the height 
of happiness that the foreseeing are most timid. So also 
the "principle" of corruption and of generation is one and 
the same. The end of decay is the beginning of genera 
tion ; corruption is nothing but a generation, generation 
a corruption. Love is hate, hate is love in the end ; 
hatred of the unfitting is love of the fitting, the love 
of this the hatred of that. In substance and in root, 
therefore, love and hate, friendship and strife, are one and 
the same thing. Poison gives its own antidote, and the 
greatest poisons are the best medicines. There is but 
one potency of two contraries, because contraries are 
apprehended by one and the same sense, therefore belong 
to the same subject or substrate ; where the principle (i.e. 

1 Lag. z8S. 5. 


the source, or faculty) of the knowledge of two objects 
is the same, the principle (i.e. elementary form) of their 
existence is also one. (Examples are the curved and the 
plane, the concave and the convex, anger and patience, 
pride and humility, miserliness and liberality). In con 
clusion : " He who would know the greatest secrets ot 
nature, let him regard and contemplate the minima and 
maxima of contraries and opposites. Profound magic it 
is to know how to extract the contrary after having found 
the point of union." Aristotle was striving towards it, 
but did not attain it, said Bruno ; " remaining with his 
foot in the genus of opposition, he was so fettered that 
he could not descend to the species of contrariety. . . . 
but wandered further from the goal at every step, as 
when he said that contraries could not co-exist at the 
same time in the same subject." There is a naive but 
at the same time a bold realism in this demand of 
Bruno s that reality shall correspond even to the simpler 
unities of thought unities which after all are mere 
limitations. It is only because we cannot distinguish in 
imagination between an infinite circle and a straight line 
that their identity in actual existence is postulated, and 
so the minimal chord and minimal arc coincide to 
our limited imagination only. Admittedly in the case 
of sense- qualities the argument is from oneness of 
faculty knowing to oneness of things known. These, 
however, are only, as we have said, " signs " and " veri 
fications " of a metaphysical truth which is arrived at 
by other methods. 

A corresponding passage in the De Minimo 2 explains 
more fully the coincidence of contraries in the minimum : 
" In the minimum, the simple, the monad, all opposites 
coincide, odd and even, many and few, finite and 

1 Lag. 288, 289. 2 Of. Lat. i. 3. 147. I. 


infinite ; therefore that which is minimum is also maxi 
mum, and any degree between these." Besides the 
coincidence of contraries in God as the monad of 
monads, the examples are given of the indifference of 
all dimensions in the universe, and the ubiquity of its 
centre ; the indifference of the radial directions from 
the centre of a particular sphere ; the indifference of all 
points in the diurnal rotation of the earth, so that any 
point whatever is east, west, north, or south ; the " sub 
jective " coincidence of concave and convex in the circle 
("subjective" meaning "in the thing itself"); the 
coincidence of the acute and the obtuse angle in the 
inclination of one line to another ; that of smallest arc and 
chord as of greatest arc and chord, " whence it follows 
that the infinite circle and the infinite straight line, also 
the infinite diameter, area, and centre are one and the 
same." Lastly, we have the coincidence of swiftest 
motion with slowest, or with rest, " for the absolutely 
swift (swift simpliciterj i.e. "in its highest possible 
manifestation, without any degree of the contrary, slow 
ness) which moves from A to B, and from B to A, is 
at once in A, and in B, and in the whole orbit, therefore, 
it stands still." 

These coincidences are again of two kinds : some 
" subjective " in the modern sense, e.g. the coincidences 
of directions in the globe ; any one may be taken as 
depth according to the spectator s standpoint ; others 
are " objective," e.g. when in God the one and the 
many are said to coincide. According as the stress 
is laid on one or on the other, the theory may be 
regarded as either dualistic (as Cusanus really was) or 
as pantheistic. There is no doubt, however, that it 
was in the latter sense that Bruno held the coincidence 
of contraries. 



IN the contemplation of the infinite, writes Bruno, man 
attains his highest good. All things aspire to the end 
for which they are ordained, and the more perfect its 
nature the more nobly and effectively does each aspire. 
Man alone, however, as endowed with a twofold nature, 
pursues a twofold good, "on the boundary line of 
eternity and time, between the archetypal world and the 
copy, the intelligible and the sensible, participating in 
either substance." Human effort can find satisfaction 
in none but the highest and first truth and goodness. 

o o 

Neither our intellect nor our will ever rests. It is clear 
therefore that their end lies not in particular goods or 
truths which lead us on from one to another and to 
another, but in universal good and truth, outside of 
and beyond which no good or truth exists. So long 
as we believe that any truth is left to know, or any 
good to gain, we seek always further truth, desire 
always further good. The end of our inquiry, therefore, 
and of our effort cannot be in a truth or in a good that 
is limited. In each and all is the desire in-born to 
become all things. Such infinite desire implies the 
existence in reality of that which will satisfy it. If 

1 De Immcnso : de / Infinite : Acrothmus, etc. 2 Op. Lat. i. I. p. 202. 

i So 



"Universal Nature" or Spirit is able to satisfy the 
appetite of each " particular nature " or mode of itself, 
and that of itself as a whole, then the understanding and 
desire which are innate, inseparable from and co-substan 
tial with each and all shall not be in vain, nor look 
hopelessly to a false and impossible end. Again, were 
universal nature and the efficient cause content with 
finite truth and good, they would not satisfy the infinite 
aspiration of particular things. It is true that even the 
desire for continuance of our present life is not satisfied ; 
a particular mode of matter cannot realise all "forms" 
or ideas at once, but only in succession and one by one ; 
it knows and therefore desires only that which is present 
to it at any given time : by force of nature, therefore, it 
comes in its ignorance (which arises from the " contrac 
tion " of the form to this or that particular matter and 
the limitation of matter by this or that form) to desire 
to be always that which it now is. The wise soul, how 
ever, will not fear death, will indeed sometimes wish for 
it, since there awaits every substance eternity of duration, 
immensity of space, and the realisation of all being. 
" Whatever the good be for which a man strives, let 
him turn his eyes to the heavens and the worlds ; there 
is spread before him a picture, a book, a mirror, in which 
he may behold, read, contemplate the imprint (vestigium}, 
the law, and the reflection of the highest good and 
with his sensible ears drink in the highest harmony, and 
raise himself as by a ladder, according to the grades of 
the forms of things, to the contemplation of another, 
the highest world." x The contemplation of the extended 
infinite and " explicate " or unfolded nature is thus only 
a means by which we may rise to the contemplation of 
the infinite in itself, "implicate" 3 nature, God. "It is no 

1 Of. Lat. i. i. p. 203. 


frivolous or futile contemplation, but one most weighty 
and worthy of the perfect man, which we pursue, when 
we seek the splendour, the fusion, and the inter 
communication of divinity and of nature not in an 
Egyptian, Syrian, Greek or Roman individual, not in 
food, drink, or any ignoble matter, with the gaping 
many, but in the august palace of the all-powerful, in 
the immeasurable space of the Ether, in the infinite 
potency of twofold nature, all-becoming and all-creat 
ing. So from the eternal vast and immeasurable effect 
in visible things, we comprehend the eternal and the 
immeasurable majesty and goodness. Let us then turn 
our eyes to the omniform image of the omnifont! God, 
and gaze upon the living and mighty reflection of Him." 

The three characteristics of the universe as a mirror 
of God which Bruno sought to drive home to the minds 
of men were its_m finite extent, the infinite number of its 
parts, and itsjim^fonnity, or the similarity of its consti 
tuent elements throughout its whole extent. His illus 
trations and his arguments would in many cases cause a 
smile if they were put forward seriously at the present 
day, but no absurdities can outbalance his enthusiasm, 
the readiness and thoroughness of his polemic against 
Aristotle and the old cosmology, and the fertility of 
imagination by which he is able to look, and to make 
others look, at things from his new, and therefore, at 
first, confusing point of view. 

Bruno s arguments rest partly on inferences from 

sense-knowledge, partly on the principle of sufficient 

The uni- reason. Thus the infinity of extent is evidenced, first. 

verse in- . * " 

finite. by the teaching offense, in the constant change which 
our circle of vision undergoes as we move from one place 
to another. There always appears to be an ultimate 
limit, but no sooner do we move than the limit is seen to 


have been only apparent ; so, it may be inferred, could 
we transfer ourselves with our senses to any of the 
distant stars, we should still seem to ourselves to be in 
the centre of a closed sphere, the very same appear 
ance which is presented to us on this earth. 

yAristotle s theory of the limitation of space by the 
ultimate sphere of the heavens was open to objections, 
many of which were raised in the early schools. The 
" subtle Averroes " had endeavoured to avoid some of 
these by the doctrine that beyond this outer sphere is 
the divine being, the eternal self-sufficient Mind. 1 " But 
how," asks Bruno, " can body be bounded by that which 
is not body ? The divine nature is no less nor in any 
other manner within the whole than without ; it is 
neither place nor in place." 2 Space therefore is always 
bounded by space, body by body, that is, each is in 
finite in extent. Were divinity that which bounds space, 
it would itself be space under another name. 3 Aristotle s 
theory implied that the universe as a whole was not in 
any place or space. The " place " of each body, he had 
said, is the containing surface of the sphere above it ; 
the outermost sphere, therefore, as there is no other 
beyond it, is itself uncontained and without place. The 
theory implied also the identity of body and space, and 
was the ground of Aristotle s rejection of the vacuum in 
nature. For a truer conception of Space, Bruno turned to 
an earlier commentator (or group of commentators 
" Philoponus ") on Aristotle, who defined it as " a con 
tinuous physical quantity in three dimensions, in which 
the magnitude of bodies is contained, in nature before and 
apart from all bodies, receiving all indifferently, beyond 
all conditions of action and passion,., not mixing with 
things, impenetrable, without form or place." 4 It is 

"*r n 

1 De Immenio, bk. i. ch. 6. 2 Op. Lat. i. i. p. 222. 3 P. 227. 4 P. 231. 


called physical, because it can not be separated from the 
existence of natural things. It is itself not contained, 
because it equals with its dimensions those of body as 
the transparency of a crystal has the same dimensions 
with the crystal itself. Neither body nor space can be 
thought of the one apart from the other. 1 Granted the 
infinity of space, that of matter necessarily follows by an 
inverse of the principle of sufficient reason : for there 
is no reason, according to Bruno, why this small part 
alone of space, where our earth is, should be filled ; the 
eternal operation is not distinct from the eternal power, 
nor could it be the will of God to cramp nature, which 
is the hand of the all-powerful, his force, act, reason, 
word, voice, order and will. 2 " There is one matter, 
one power, one space, one efficient cause, God and 
Nature, everywhere equally, and everywhere powerful. 
We insult the infinite cause when we say that it may be 
the cause of a finite effect ; to a finite effect it can have 
neither the name nor the relation of an efficient." 3 

The corresponding argument from the capacity of 
our human imagination to think always of a greater 
than any given magnitude, i.e. its inability to rest short 
of the infinite, is expanded elsewhere. Our imaginative 
faculty is the umbra or shadow of nature ; its power, 
therefore, of adding quantity to quantity, ad infinitum, 
must have something in nature to which it corresponds ; 
nature does not give a faculty for which there is no 
satisfaction. There is then in truth an infinite universe, 
such as our imagination demands. Bruno notices the 
objection that on this theory anything whatever might 
be said about the universe, e.g. that it is infinite man, 
since one can imagine a human form filling the universe ; 

1 Op. Lat. \. i. p. 232. On Space, cf. Acrct. Art. 31, 33-37 (Vacuum, Ether, etc.), 
and Infinite, Lag. 365. 2 P. 234. 3 P. 235. 


and he replies, " it is infinite man, or infinite ass, or 
infinite tree, each and all, since in the infinite all 
particular things are one and the same." l 

The arguments we have traced are : (i) What 
appears to be a limit to our senses always proves to be 
imaginary, when we are able to test it, therefore we may 
infer that it is imaginary in other cases ; (2) the very 
notion of space, implying that it has neither form nor 
place, means that it is infinite, limitless ; (3) we cannot 
imagine a portion of space than which there is not 
another greater, and so ad infinitum : but reality cannot 
fall short of thought, therefore space is infinite. The 
arguments of Aristotle against , the_infinity_of the world Aristotle. 
are taken up in detail in the second book of the De 
Immense. As the controversy, however important at the 
time, has lost much of its interest for us, we need only 
give a brief sketch of its main lines. The first argu 
ment was drawn from the assumption of an ultimate 
sphere or primum mobile which moved about the earth as i. The/- 

o T , i i / i / . i mum mobile. 

a centre." It was clear that if the universe were infinite the 
radii of this sphere would be infinitely prolonged, and 
therefore the termini of any two given radii at an infinite 
distance one from another. The motion of the sphere 
would thus be inconceivable, for it would require 
infinite time in which to pass from one point to another. 
The answer of Bruno was that the universe as a whole 
was not moveable at all, nor had it any centre ; only its 
parts were moved and each of these had its own relative 
and finite centre. The apparent motion of the sphere 
was due to the real movement of the earth about its 
axis. A similar answer was given to the argument 2- The 
from the movements of bodies according to their 

1 Cf. Infinite, Lag. 322. i ff. for the argument. 

2 Bk. ii. ch. 2. ; cf. Infinite, Dial, v., Lag. 387. 


elements. As to us on the earth, the earth appears to be 
the centre of the universe, so to the inhabitants of the 
moon, the moon will appear to be such. Matter rising 
from the earth to the moon would appear to the inhabit 
ants of the latter to fall. These distinctions were relative 
to the finite worlds, but might not be referred to the 
whole universe. As the earth is one world, the moon 
another, so each has its own centre, each its own up and 
down : nor can these differences be assigned absolutely 
to the whole and its parts together, but only relatively 
3. The to t h e position and condition of the latter. 1 In his third 

wnnlp ann L 

e an 

its parts, argument Aristotle sought to prove that infinite body 
in general was impossible.- If the whole is infinite its 
simple elements must be so also. These must be either 
of an infinite number of kinds, different from one 
another, or of a finite number of kinds, or all of the same 
kind. But the first of the alternatives is impossible on 
the a priori ground that each element must have a special 
kind of movement corresponding to it, and the kinds of 
movement are actually few in number ; the second and 
third, because the movement of the elements should then 
be infinite, whereas in the actual universe motion is 
limited both in centre and circumference. The argu 
ments, however, do not apply to Bruno s theory of the 
universe. Motion is always from one definite point to 
another ; we do not set out from Italy in order to go 
on ad infinitum, but to go to some definite point. He 
does not, as Epicurus did, regard all minima as in infinite 
motion downwards through the universe ; there is no 
down, no centre, no up, all is simply and generally in 
flux. It is not the elements that are innumerable in 
kind, but the composite bodies, the stars, which are 
constituted by them ; and of these the parts move about 

1 De Imm. \. \. 264 ; cf. Inf. 392. 15. 2 Bk. ii. ch. 4 (267 ff.). 


their natural body, as the parts of the earth towards the 
earth, and those of the moon toward the moon in their own 
regions ; all motion is therefore limited, each world has, 
as it were, margins of its own. The idea that if any of 
the elements, as fire or water, were infinite, there would 
be infinite lightness or gravity, and hence that the universe 
would move as a whole upwards or downwards, is equally 
at fault. To the universe as a whole the terms heavy and 
light do not apply, but only to its parts, the finite and 
determinate bodies consisting of finite and determinate 
elements. These elements, whether they be taken as of 
one or more kinds, since they cannot move outside of 
the universe, must have finite movements. 

The fourth argument : was based upon the impossi- 4- Action 
bility of action between an infinite body and a second infinitTand 
body whether finite or infinite. An infinite cannot act the finite- 
upon a finite because the action would necessarily be 
timeless. Were it in time we could then find a finite 
body which in the same time would produce the same 
effect ; but there can be no such equality between the 
finite and the infinite. Similarly action between two 
infinites would occur in infinite time ; in other words, 
would not take place at all. The conclusion is that 
neither fire nor earth nor any of the elements can be 
infinite in quantity. Bruno suggests, in the first place, 2 
that a change may be produced timelessly ; thus if a 
body in a large circle cover a certain space in the minimum 
of time, a body in a smaller circle will cover a less 
space in no time, for nothing can be smaller than the 
minimum. 3 In the second place, no action of the whole 
or effect upon the whole exists, it is only the finite 
bodies within it, each with its finite force, that act upon 
one another. Even if two infinite bodies, over against 


1 Bk. ii. ch. 6. 2 Ch. 7. (p. 278) ; cf. Infinite, Lag. 335 ff. 3 Vide infra, ch. 5. 


one another, were supposed, their action would not be 
of one whole upon another, but of the parts on the con 
tiguous parts. 1 Force is exerted by bodies not inten 
sively but extensively, because as, where one part of a 
body is, there another is not, so at the point where one 
part of the body acts another does not. 2 

5. Propor- A difficulty, not unknown to recent philosophy, 
to whole in occurred as to the relation of infinites to one another. 
lte- Whatever is an element of the infinite must be infinite 
also ; hence both earths and suns are infinite in number. 
But the infinity of the former, said Bruno, is not greater 
than that of the latter ; nor, where all are inhabited, are 
the inhabitants in greater proportion to the infinite than 
the stars themselves. 3 Each sun is surrounded by 
several earths or planets, but the one class is not greater 
in respect of its infinite than the other. A single sun, 
earth, constellation, is not really a part of the infinite nor 
a part in it, for it can bear no proportion to it. A thousand 
infinities are not more than two or three, and even one 
is not comprehensible by finite numbers. In the 
innumerable and the immeasurable there is no place for 
more or less, few or many, nor for any distinctions of 
number or measure. 4 The matter of the stars is 
immeasurable, and no less immeasurable is that of the 
fiery type or suns than of the aqueous type or earths. 
Nor does the fact that these infinities are not given to 
sense disprove their existence, as Aristotle had maintained. 
To imagine there is nothing beyond the sphere which 
limits our range of sight, is to be like Bruno as a child, 
when he believed there ivas nothing beyond Mount 
Vesuvius because there was nothing to strike his senses. 5 

1 Of. Lat. i. I. p. 279. 2 Ik. p. 281. 

3 Bk. ii, ch. 8 (p. 283) 5 cf. Of. Lat. i. 4. 216, and Infinite, Lag. 344 ff. 338. 
4 Of. Lat. i. i. p. 284. 5 P. 285. 


I Though each class be infinite, we have seen that the infinite 
I does not act infinitely, that is intensively, but acts finitely, 
i.e. extensively. Each individual and species is finite, but 
the number of all individuals is infinite, and infinite are the 
matter in which they consist and the space in which they 
move. Everywhere, therefore, limit and measure are 
only in the particular and the individual, which, compared 
with the universe, are nothing. 

A further argument was derived from the necessity of 6. Figure 
figure in body and from the relation of body to space. 1 a 
Every body is known to us as of a certain and definite 
figure, whereas infinite body would necessarily be un- 
figured. In this case, said Bruno, Aristotle is confounding 
body with space, although he elsewhere separates the two 
notions. That space is something other than the bodies 
which fill it, that it is more than limit or figure, is evident 
from the fact that always between any two corporeal sur 
faces, between any two atoms, there is space. Nor is space 
merely an accident of body, a special quality of it, as colour 
is, for example, for we cannot think of colour without a 
body in which it exists, and when the body is abstracted 
the colour goes also, whereas space may be thought of 
apart from body, and body, when removed does not take 
* with it its space. Perhaps we should say that space is really 
the continuous ether or light which penetrates throughout 
the universe, and seems to fill space more continuously 
than wood, stone, or iron, in which there is an admixture of 
vacuum. Must all bodies be figured, then the figure of 
the infinite is the sphere. The dimensions of space coincide 
with those of body, and the definition given of body as tri- 
dirnensional quantity applies also to space : there cannot 
be any body which is not in place, nor can its dimensions 
exist without equal dimensions of the containing space. 

1 Bk. ii. ch. 10. p. 293. 


7. The A seventh argument, closely related to some of the 

the earth, others, is drawn from the old belief in the earth as the 
centre of gravity, the heaviest body in the universe, and 
in the empyrean as the outermost limit and the lightest 
body. 1 But, as we have seen, there is in the universe no 
centre as the stars and their inhabitants are heavenly 
beings to us, so are we and our earth to them. " Just 
as the earth knows no centre or downward direction 
proper which is away from its own body, but only a 
centre of its mass, a central cavern of its heart, from 
which the precious life is diffused through the whole 
body, and which we may believe to be the chief seat of 
the soul ; so there must be in the moon and other bodies 
a centre which connects all parts, to which every member 
contributes, and which is nourished by all the forces of 
the living body." The old belief, therefore, that if 
there were inhabitants at the antipodes they would be 
apt to fall downwards into space, or that the parts of 
the moon and its living beings might fall upon our 
earth, was absurd, for the face of the earth always looks 
upward in the direction of the radii from the centre to 
the superficies." 
s. /The The last argument was that drawn from the supposed 

perfect c is 

the self- perfection of the universe. 3 Aristotle defined the perfect 
as that which was limited by itself, not by another. 
Hence the immeasurable would not be perfect, while the 
world was perfect because limited by its own terminus. 
Again body does not pass over into any other kind of 
quantity, but it is the limit into which the line and the 
point flow. The first argument, said Bruno, would hold 
of any fragment of body, while the second would apply 
to any animal or member of an animal, for these also 
are self-contained and do not pass over into any other 

3 Bk. ii. ch. 1 1. 2 P. 300 ff. 3 Bk. ii. ch. 12. 302 ff. 


kind. Perfection has no reference to quantity, nor to 
limitation by self, which is a geometrical determination. 1 
For this mechanical idea of perfection, Bruno substitutes 
a teleological ; the perfect is that which consists of a 
number of parts or members, working together towards 
the end for which the whole is ordained : the universe 
is perfect " as adorned by so many worlds, which are 
so many deities, and as that in and to which, as a unity 
embracing the perfection of all, innumerable things 
perfect in their kind are reduced, referred, united." 2 

The infinity of space or ether and of matter being infinite 
proved, it follows again, by the principle of sufficient v^dds!" 
reason, that the " worlds " are " innumerable " or infinite 
in number. As it is good that the world exists, and 
would be bad did it not exist, so in a similar space, and ^ 
where similar causes are, it is good that there be a world, 
and bad should there not be one. If the world is single, 


then there is a single, finite, particular good, and infinite 
wide-spread universal evil. He who is able to produce 
good, and does not do so, without cause, is evil ; " as 
not to be able is privatively evil, to be able and to be 
unwilling would be so positively^ and God in regard to 
the finite effect would be a finitely good cause, in regard, 
however, to the repression of infinite realisation, would 
be infinitely evil." 3 Perfection does not belong 
to our world, our system, taken by itself, since 
there are innumerable other possible worlds which 
cannot be contained in it. Given a man endowed 
with ail human perfections, the existence of other 

1 Bk. ii. ch. 13. - Cf. also infra, p. 199 ff. 

3 Delmm. bk. i. ch. 10. pp. 235-8 ; cf. Infinite,, 312 f., 316. Bruno does not use the 
term " principle of sufficient reason " : his principle is the inverse of that of Leibniz 
" whatever has not a sufficient reason for existing is necessarily non-existent," Bruno s 
being that " whatever has not a sufficient reason for non-existence (i.e. whatever is 
possible) necessarily exists." 


men subordinate to him is not excluded, but rather 
demanded in order that he may fulfil the harmony of 
his being. So the best, the first, of the monads, which 
comprises all particular things in itself, embraces, in 
spite of its unity, innumerable worlds, without limit, 
under its corporeal aspect. One does not suffice, for the 
productive mind diffuses itself throughout the whole 
universe, wholly in every part, in equal goodness and 
power, and fills the void in order that its great image 
> i may be presented throughout the whole. 1 Nature thus 
I puts forth an infinite mirror of itself and a fitting re 
flection ; its substance is infinite and its force eternal, 
there is an explicit immeasurable, as God is implicitly in 
the whole and everywhere wholly. 2 To the infinite 
nothing finite bears any proportion, nor can be a fitting 
product of it. Hence if it communicate itself at all to 
corporeal things, or unfold its magnitude in corporeal 
existences and in multitude, the reflection of its essence 
and imprint of its power must be infinite in magnitude 
and without number. " Although, when we consider 
individuals singly, under that proximate and immediate 
respect in which they are particulars, they must be re 
ferred to a finite principle and cause (since a finite effect 
demands a finite power), in the consideration of the 
universe, however, each and all the innumerable exist 
ences in immeasurable space point to an infinite first 
cause." 3 

Argument In the simplicity and unity of God/sjbeittg, all attri- 
t f othe G butes are one, therefore knowledge, will, and power 
world. coincide. The consequences of this doctrine Bruno un 
folds in a series of aphorisms or propositions which 
are interesting as anticipating Spinoza s method of 

1 De Imm. bk. i. ch. 1 1. p. 239 ; Infin. 314 f. - De Imm. bk. i. ch. II. p. 241. 

3 Ib. Schol. ch. n. pp. 241, 242. 


"proof" r 1 i. The Divine essence is infinite. 2. As 
the measure of being, so is the measure of power. 3. 
As the measure of power, so is the measure of action. 
4. God is absolutely simple essence or being in which 
there can be no complexity nor internal diversity. 5. 
Consequently in him, being, power, action, volition, 
and whatever can be truly attributed to him, are one and 
the same. 6. Therefore the will of God is above all 
things, and can be frustrated neither by himself nor by 
another. 7. Consequently the Divine will is not only 
necessary, but is necessity itself, and its opposite is not 
only impossible but impossibility itself. 8. In simple 
essence there cannot be contrariety of any kind, nor 
inequality : will, therefore, is not contrary to, nor un 
equal to, power. 9. Necessity and liberty are one, 
hence what acts by the necessity of nature acts freely ; 
it would not act freely at all did it act otherwise than 
is demanded by necessity and nature, or by the necessity 
of nature. 2 10. There is not an infinite power , unless 
there be an infinite possible ; i.e. there is not that 
which is able to create an infinite unless there be that 
which is able to be created. What is a power which is 
impossible of realisation or which is relative to an im 
possible ? ii. As there is a world in this space, so also 
there is able to be one in any space similar to that which, 
were this world removed, would remain equal to the 
world. 12. There is no ground for denying, outside the 
world, a similar space to that in which the world is, nor 
any for regarding it as finite. 3 14. It is better to be 
than not to be ; it is more worthy to create what is 
good than not to create it. To posit (create) being and 

1 P. 242 ff. 2 Cf. Infinite, Lag. 316. 21. 

3 No. 13 states that the worlds could not interfere with one another, since space 
is infinite. 



truth is incomparably better than to allow not-being or 
nothing. 15. The potency of nature ought not to be 
frustrated, nor space remain unfilled for infinite duration, 
for then potency would be relative to an impossible. 

1 6. That infinite potency (whether extensive or intensive) 
should be frustrated of existence means that infinite evil 
should be actually posited, as space is actually infinite. 

17. As this space can receive this world and be adorned 
thereby, so also any similar space whatever, indiscernible 
from it, a similar principle being present, could have 
received a similar world. 1 19. Of God and of nature 
we should think as highly as possible. 20. Of the 
greatest things nothing should be rashly asserted which 
is contrary to sense and reason. 

The infinite number of worlds is thus made to de 
pend for its proof upon the identity of power and will, 
of will and knowledge, i.e. thought, in God. Whatever 
is in the mind of God is realised in the universe. 
Knowledge Before God past, present, and future are one, 
present, and eternal ; ~ he is unable to change his 
purpose or to deny himself. What he wills and what 
he can are one and the same ; nor can he do what he 
wills not, for fate is the Divine will itself. Hence, as 
he cannot be other than he is, so nothing can be done 
by him otherwise than as it is done. The nature of God 
is a simple substance ; however many names be predi 
cated of it, they signify, one and all, the same thing. 3 
Infinite virtue, if limited neither by itself nor by 
another, acts by the necessity uf its own nature, not by 
a necessity alien to itself and to its will ; it is itself 
necessity. The necessity by which it acts, therefore, 

1 No. 1 8 denies that the perfection of the world in one space should either 
add to or detract from the perfection of another world in other space or render it less 

2 Bk. i. ch. 12. s P. 245. 


can be frustrated neither from within, by itself, nor 
from without, by another : not the former, for it 
cannot be both one thing and another, nor the latter, 
because its necessity is the law of all other things. 
There can be nothing which may prevent this nature, 
necessity, will, power, from proceeding according to its 
whole power, which is goodness itself, according to its 
whole goodness, which is power itself, and both are 
infinite, and diffuse themselves infinitely, Man s liberty 
of action is expressed imperfectly, and sometimes in an 
imperfect object, is continually being disturbed by passion 
and ignorance of things ; for if we acted without any 
disturbance of the will, or course of thought, without 
ignorance, or passion, then our action would be deter 
mined always towards the better of two opposed ends. 
Before we act we stand between the two ways and 
deliberate, and at last determine, but in uncertainty 
and perturbedness of spirit ; while God, as in nature 
most perfect, acts in the one of two ways that is the 
most fitting. Nor is it an imperfection of nature to be 
determined in one direction only, away from that which 
may lead to error. Thus we may not refer the will 
and action of God to a liberty of this kind, of being 
equally or unequally disposed to two contradictory 
volitions or acts a liberty of indifference but his 
liberty is of the kind which is identical with necessity. 
Over it is nothing greater, in the way of it there is 
nothing equal, all things in all and throughout all 
serve it. God s knowledge is not discursive, involves 
no effort. To be in the mind of God is to be realised 
(species concept a deo est effect io resque]. Thus as the 
perfect monad, he is intrinsically and extrinsically the 
whole, sustaining all things. There is on the one side 
infinite goodness and infinite desire for its realisation, 






on the other infinite desire of being realised ; the 
result must be perfect satisfaction and perfect good. 

In order to understand how far Bruno has moved at 
this, the final stage of his philosophy, from the 
Neoplatonism of its beginnings, the ninth chapter of the 
last book of the De Immenso must be taken into 
account. 1 It is interesting in view of the relation of 
Spinoza to Bruno, as well as of the consistency of 
Bruno s own thought. In it the existence of abstract 
ideal types is contended against, " Nowhere~Ts essence 
apart from existence ; nature is nothing but the 
virtue that is immanent (insita) in things, and the law 
by which all things fulfil their course. There is no 
abstract that subsists in logical reason but not in 
reality, no justice by which things are just, no goodness 
through which they are good, wisdom through which 
they are wise, nor are deltas and feritas the ground of 
existence of gods and beasts : nor is it light by which 
shining bodies shine, nor shadow by which folly, 
darkness, fictions, nonsense come to exist." The 
student of nature must not suppose form and matter, 
light and colour and motion, to exist separately by 
themselves because they may be conceived or defined 
by themselves. There is then no archetypal world to 
which the Creator looked in fabricating this of ours, 
but nature produces all things from within itself, 
without thought or hesitation. " Study to know 
where Nature and God are, for there are the causes of 
things, the life of principles, the source of elements, the 
seeds of the things that are to be brought forth, the 
typal forms, active potency producing all things, . . . 
there is also matter, the underlying passive potency, 
abiding, present, ever coming together into one as it 

1 Op. Lat. vol. i. pt. 2. p. 310. 


were, for it is not as if a creator came from on high, to 
give it order and form from without. Matter pours 
forth all things from its own lap, Nature itself is the 
inward workman, a living art, a wondrous virtue which 
is endowed with_ mind^ giving realisation to a matter 
which is its own, not foreign to itself; not hesitating, 
tut producing all things easily out of itself, as fire 
shines and burns, as light spreads without effort through 
space. . . . Nature is not so miserably endowed as to 
be excelled by human art, which is directed by a kind 
of internal sense, while several kinds of animals, guided 
by their inward mind, show an innate foresight of a 
wonderful kind, ants and the industrious bees, which 
have no type or model spread before them. For there 
is a nature which is more than present to, which is 
immanent in things, remote from none as none is remote 
from being, except the false : and while only the surface 
of things without changes, deeper in the heart of all 
than is each to itself it lives, the principle of existence, 
source of all forms, . . . Mind, God, Being, One, 
Truth, Fate, Reason, Order." 1 Natura naturata is thus 
not a resultant or outcome of natura naturans with 
Bruno ; they are one and the same thing under 
different aspects, and both are one with God, the living 
force in things. 

The arguments of Aristotle against the plurality of Aristotle on 

D O .. 1. < * ~" i T. r 

i i i 111 1 i plurality of 

w ! prkls are in the^seventh book set out one by one, and worlds. 
controverted from BruncTiT own standpoint, at times 
with great fulness and subtlety. It would be unprofit 
able to enter far into this debate, where the advantage 
lay so obviously on one side. We have already seen 
that Bruno was able to lay his finger upon the weak 
spot in Aristotle s system, the definitions of space and 

1 lb., ch. x. p. 312 ff. 


time. There is no absolute norm of time, said Bruno, 
whether arithmetical, geometrical, or physical ; for in 
this kind we cannot fix a minimum, and least of all on 
Peripatetic principles ; there is always a less than any 
given period of time, hence we cannot lay down any 
true measure of time, i.e. all time is relative to the 
individual. In any case the daily movement (of the 
outermost sphere, as Aristotle thought, but in fact) of 
the earth, is not really circular. There are as many 
moving agents as there are stars, as there are souls, or 
deities. 1 But " if we must assume some one presiding 

U r. r 

over the infinite number of agents, we must ascend 
above all or descend down to the centre of all, to the 
absolute being, present above all and within all ... 
more intimate to all things than each is to itself, not 
more distant from one than from another, for it is 
equally the nearest to all." Several of the arguments 
of Aristotle were drawn from abstract conceptions of 
Perfection, unity and perfection, and evidently raised interesting 
problems for the time of Bruno. They are, briefly, 
that a plurality of worlds would be irrational, since no 
reason could be given for one number rather than 
another, that it is more in accordance with the perfection 
of the monad, that all reality should be massed together 
in one world, that the economy of nature does not 
admit of the multiplication of goods, that the passive 
capacity (matter} is not equal to the active power (the 
form}, that the perfect is by its very nature unique. 
Bruno answers that there is no definite, but an infinite, 
number of worlds, and that if the former were the case 
no reason could be put forward why there should be 
only one, which in Bruno s sense of world is no doubt 
true. As to the monad, the true monad is that which 

1 Cf. Of. Lat. i. 2. p. 259. 2 P. 260. On Time cf. Acrot., Arts. 38-40. 



embraces all number or plurality in itself. " We are 
not compelled to define a number, we who say that 
there is an infinite number of worlds ; there no distinc 
tion exists of odd or even, since these are differences of 
number, not of the innumerable. Nor can I think 
there have ever been philosophers who, in positing 
several worlds, did not posit them also as infinite : for 
would not reason, which demands something further 
beyond this sensible world, so also outside of and 
beyond whatever number of worlds is assumed, assume 
again another and another ? " 

That there are more worlds than one is due to the One life in 

/. i all the 

presence everywhere throughout space or the same worlds. 
principle of life, which everywhere has the same effect ; 
just as within one of these worlds, the earth, we find 
different species of the same animal of man, for 
example which cannot be descended from the same 
parentage. There are " men of different colours, cave 
men, mountain-pygmies, the guardians of minerals, the 
giants of the South," each of which races must have 
been produced independently in its own place. And 
finally, although it is true that nothing can be added to 
the perfect, why may not the perfect be multiplicable ? 
Though the perfect man is one, nature may produce 
several within the same species. " Everywhere is one 
soul, one spirit of the world, wholly in the whole and 
in every part of it, as we find in our lesser world also. 
This soul . . . (should the kind of place and of 
element not conflict) produces all things everywhere ; 
so that for the generation of some even time is not 
required. . . . The infinite universe, and it only under 
God, is perfect. Nothing finite is so good that it 
could not be better ; whatever may be better has some 

1 Of. Lat. i. 2. p. 274. 


degree of evil and defect, as what is not absolutely 
bright is not without some signs of obscurity. . . . 
Therefore the perfect, absolutely and in itself, is one, 
infinite, which cannot be greater or better, and than 
which nothing can be greater or better. This is one, 
everywhere, the only God, universal nature, of which 
nothing can be a perfect image or reflection, but the 
infinite. Everything finite therefore is imperfect, every 
sensible world is imperfect, as good and evil, matter and 
form, light and darkness, joy and sadness concur in it, 
and all things everywhere are in alteration and move 
ment ; but all of them, in the infinite, are as in unity, 
truth, and goodness, and in this aspect the infinite is 
rightly called the universe." In the infinite, as we 
have learned from the Causa, all contraries are one. 
The universe is perfect, not because of its quantity, 
but because it contains all other things in it. 2 Within 
the limits of their kind small causes can produce 
small effects with some perfection ; much more effective 
is that immeasurable and more general cause, of which 
nothing stands in the way. It is a harmony of the 
many in one, the only corporeal image of the divine 
mind. The finite, however, is imperfect only when 
taken apart from the whole to which it belongs, i.e. 
evil and defect are appearances only. Although in 
nature not all things are of their best, and more species 
than one produce monstrosities, yet we may not find fault 
with the great building of the mighty architect, for 
even the small, weak, and diminutive contributes its 
part to the nobility of the whole. Is a picture most 
beautiful when it is blazoned all over with gold and 
purple ? Does it not shine out best from a dull back 
ground ? Can there be any part which, in its order 

1 Op. Lat. i. 2. p. 307. 2 P. 309 ff. 

II 1NA1UK1L UF mKFJt^ilUiM 201 

and place within the whole body, is not good, and the 
best in the end and in the whole ? A harmony in 
music is better the greater the variety within it of 
length, accent, pause, and the like. 1 

The perfect may be either ( i ) " the perfect absolutely, 
or (2) the perfect in its kind." The former again is 
twofold, according as it is (i) " that which is wholly in 
the whole and in every part, or (2) that which is wholly 
in the whole but not in the part." Of these the one is 
divinity, the intellect of the universe, absolute goodness 
and truth, the other thejmmeasurable corporeal reflec 
tion of the divine. As within the universe there are 
many things perfect in their kind, which it combines in 
its unity, containing in itself the perfection of all, it 
may in a second sense be called the absolutely perfect. 
For no one world singly, nor system of worlds, nor any 
number of systems, can be brought into comparison 
with God, except indirectly, through the immeasurable 
wisdom, power, and goodness. " Nothing is absolutely 
imperfect or evil, for the highest nature exists in a 
certain sense in the meanest and lowest, as on the 
palette of a painter colours are thought little of which 
presently, unfolded into the scheme of the picture, shall 
seem to be, along with the painter himself, of chief 
importance." Moral evil, itself, as we shall find, has 
no reality for Bruno s pantheism. Justice and goodness, 
not existing as abstract entities, have their only ground 
in the divine will, i.e. in the course of nature. 3 On the 
other hand, it is not in the part, the detail, the trivial or 
minute existence, that the divine will is most adequately 
declared, but in the whole, its plan and its law. " What 

1 P- 311. 

2 P. 312. Cf. Florentine s Telesio, p. 85. On Perfection, and the Perfection 
of the Universe, cf. Bruno s Acrot., Arts. 17 and 51. 

3 Cf. Spinoza. 


is best and most glorious, most beseeming the goodness 
of His nature, is to be attributed to His will. It is 
impious to seek this in the blood of insects, in the 
mummied corpse, in the foam of the epileptic, under 
the shaking feet of murderers, or in the melancholy 
mysteries of vile necromancers ; l it must be sought 
rather in the_ inviolable, intemerate law of nature, in 
the religion oFlTmind directed duly by that law, in 
the splendour of the sun, in the beauty of the things 
which are brought forth from this our parent, after His 
true image, as expressed bodily in the beauty of those 
innumerable living things, which, in the immeasurable 
sweep of the one heaven, shine and live, have sense 
and intelligence, and sing praises to the One, the 
highest and best." 

1 Allusions to practices of the Black Art. - Op. Lat. i. 2. p. 316. 



WE have found that, according to Bruno, the universe 
is infinite in extent, and that there are innumerable 
worlds within it : it remains to know what are the 
materials that constitute the universe, and the moving 
rjrinciples that govern its changes and direct the worlds 
in their courses. 

Nature, he said, is the same in kind, in its substance, Uniformity 
and in its elements, throughout its whole extent a 
daring conception for a time when the empyrean and 
all space beyond it were still regarded as the special 
abode of divinity. He reminded his opponents of his 
own childish experiences : when from Cicala he looked 
towards Mount Vesuvius, he thought it dark, gloomy, 
bare of trees and flowers ; but when he approached it, 
he found it fairer than Cicala itself, while now the latter 
looked bare and dark. 1 The Aristotelians were com 
mitting a similar error in judging the distant stars and 
the firmament to be in reality as they appeared to our 
eyes, and in denying the existence of that which was 
not visible to us. " As the philosopher must not 
believe what cannot be demonstrated by evidence, so 
neither must he foolishly despise or find fault with 
what cannot be disproved by reason." Had men, 

1 De Immenso, m. ch. I. (p. 313 ft".). - P. 317. 



instead of bending so long over the books of Aristotle 
and his commentators, the nebulosa volumina, but turned 
their eyes to the book and light of nature, they would 
have formed a far different conception of the constitu 
tion of the heavens than that of the eight, nine, ten, or 
more spheres and innumerable epicycles of the Ptolemaic 
system. Bruno showed how as we rise from the surface 
of the earth our horizon becomes wider, while in detail 
less vivid, and he supposed himself to continue the 
ascension upwards to the surface of the moon. 1 A few 
miles away tree and mountain would not be distinguish 
able from the rest of the earth, but we should perceive 
only a wide circle of light with dark spots, the appear 
ance of sea and of land respectively. As the distance 
increased the form of the earth would become more 
visible while it lost all appearance of opacity, and the 
whole would seem continuous light. As we neared the 
moon, the earth would come to appear exactly as the 
moon does to us from the earth. The moon also 
revolves round its own axis, and from it, as with us, 
the universe will appear to revolve round it as centre. 
It had been said that the appearance of the heavenly 
bodies had always been and continued to be the same, 
but Bruno points to the fact that although a mountain, 
when seen from at hand, changes its face from day to 
day, and from season to season, yet from a distance it 
seems always the same. 2 It is owing to the distance 
that the face of the moon appears to us never to change, 
although it is certainly subject to as many alterations as 
the earth itself ; and to the dwellers on the moon the 
earth will appear equally changeless. The light and 
shadow seen on the surface of the moon are due to the 
variety of sea and land in it, the one reflecting light, 

1 BJc. iii. ch. 2. 2 Ch. 4. p. 341 ft". 


the other absorbing. On the moon, as on the earth, 
Nature is in continuous change : for example, the relative 
positions of sea and land are ever altering ; but the 
magnitude of the distance renders these invisible, and 
more especially the minuteness and gradual nature of 
the changes themselves. The lunar spectator will be 
presented with eclipses of the earth, and, according to 
the position of sea and land, i.e. of light and shadow, 
with phases of the earth. 1 In the same way Bruno 
applied his principle of similarity to show that from 
distant stars the earth would appear of uniform magni 
tude and unvarying position, while in the neighbourhood 
of other suns it and all the other planets would dis 
appear. As matter is the same in kind throughout the 
universe, so it is subject everywhere to the same law of 
unceasing change : " The sun in its rising never seeks 
twice the same point, all things by stress of the con 
tinuous v flux are renewed, nor ever seek again the 
haunts they have left, nor is there any part of the earth 
which does not pass through every region, and a like 
force now carries each part in one direction or another, 
now drives it away ; and if by chance any one revisit 
the centre, it is no longer in the same form, nor in the 
same connection (ordine}" Not even the whole can 
ever be twice the same, since the order and arrangement 
of its parts are continuously changing. Even in things 
that seem ever to present the same face there is a latent 
alteration which time will bring to light. There would 
otherwise be nothing to prevent the whole of Nature 
being fixed, petrified, as it were, to all eternity. Yet 
the substance of things the atom is unchanging. 3 
" All things are in flow ; the parts of the earth, seas> 

1 So Bruno explained the phases of the moon. 
2 Bk. vi. ch. 17. p. zio. 3 Ch. 18. p. 218. 


and rivers vary their positions, by a certain ebbing and 
flowing order of Nature. As matter wanders, flowing 
in and out, now here, now there, so the forms travel 
through matter. For there is not any form which, 
once occupying a portion of matter, retains it always, 
nor any matter which, once obtaining a certain form, 
maintains it for ever. Hence it is that, matter always 
taking up one form or another, and having equal 
capacity for all, consequently by virtue of its eternity 
it must sometimes fall in with that which is able to 
bind it to itself for ever ; if this were to happen, all 
things would be so constituted that there would be no 
alteration or difference in them." l 

The Ether. The universe to Bruno is transfused with spirit, 
soul or life, " the soul of the universe," which animates 

J its every part. " The seat or place of God is the 

universe, everywhere the whole immeasurable heaven, 
empty space, of which He is the fulness." The material 
aspect, or, as Bruno sometimes seems to say, the body 
of this spirit Js the ether, a subtle fluid distinguished 
from the air we breathe by the absence of moisture. 
The ether is a purely ^passive,! non-resisting medium, 
permeating the universe, without quality, and unimpres 
sionable by force or action ; thus it is penetrated by 
the heat of any radiating body without diminishing its 
force. It took the place, for Bruno, of the mythical 
Fifth Essence, which had so long fed the dreams of 
philosophers " Divine yet corporeal, material yet with- 
ou_t_jmitter, a form \vithout privation, conjoining act 
with potency, neither heavy nor light, suffering neither 
generation, nor corruption, nor alteration, neither increase 
nor decrease ; beyond which no sensible existence is, 

1 //>. p. 220. If the flow of change were arrested at any one point in Nature, it 
would ultimately be arrested throughout the whole. 


first-born and creatrix of Nature, simplest of beings, all- 
containing, most powerful, most active, most living, 
most perfect of existences, endowed with life and 
intelligence, of its own nature moving circularly, etc., 
etc. all this is at length proved to have been a most 
portentous shadow without body." l Heaven is either 
empty space, or it is an ethereal substance, " a very 
subtle kind of air, which is the first and most universal 
occupant of space." Again, the ether is described as 
a vapour or smoke, a nebulous matter, penetrating 
throughout the depths of the void, interpenetrating all 
things and embracing all ; as not entering into move 
ment of its own accord, for it is but an exhalation of 
the wind a kind of continuous vapour such as is 
contained in the bowels of the earth : in it is neither 
heat nor cold nor any similar effect (passio), but it is 
the medium through which these are borne. All these 
require moisture : moisture alone can " fix " light or 
darkness or combine atoms into a concrete body and 
prevent their random flight through the air. 3 It has 
been claimed that in this and other passages Bruno 
anticipated the modern theory of the ether ; it must be 
noted, however, that he expressly denies to its parts 
any kind of motion it is only the composite body 
which moves and that he speaks of this heaven or 
e^h^r as the soul which is at once immanent in and 
comprehends the stars, i.e. as .the soul of the miiverse. 

Of the strictly material elements of the universe, the Moisture. 
most important is moisture or water. It is moisture 
which gives concreteness and therefore weight to 
things. Nothing has weight which has not been 
formed into one by the union of innumerable parts 
under the action of water. 4 Consistently with this, 

1 Bk. iv. ch. i. (Op. Liit. i. 2. p. 6). 2 P. 7. 3 P. 8. 4 P. 152. 


Bruno believed the heaviest bodies, as the metals, to be 
the most solid and concrete, and therefore to contain 
most moisture. It is moisture also which, penetrating 
through the arteries, veins, and bones of the earth, 
gives to it both variety of aspect and the power of life. 
The visible moisture on the earth s surface, the seas and 
lakes, is a mere nothing as compared to that which is 
diffused through its interior is but the sweat, as it 
were, of the earth s body. 1 Bruno s passion for homo 
geneity led him to understand that in its surface the land 
under the sea is similar to that above it, with which the 
former is continually changing place, and it is divided 
up into plains, mountains, valleys, the islands and rocks of 
the sea being the tops of the mountains : a remarkable 
intuition of the truth, however arrived at. As to the 
Earth : familiar elements, earth and fire, Bruno could neither 
allow a special place or sphere nor a special direction 
of movement to either, as in the Aristotelian cosmology. 
The earth was not the centre of the universe, and there 
were earths or similar planets everywhere. To the 
several arguments of the Peripatetics - for the centrality 
of the earth, from the heaviness, the darkness, solidity, 
composite character of the earth s matter, and the 
movements of its parts, from the idea that contraries 
shun one another so that the coldest element, for 
example, should be in the centre, the hottest at the 
extreme, Bruno opposed the common-sense answers 
that his own theory suggested to him. His appeal was 
always from " fictitious order " to the evidence of 
" sense and reason." The argument has no longer any 
interest in itself, and to pursue it into detail would 
hardly be edifying ; but so full is it, so weighty and so 
vigorous, that one wonders how even the " Peripatetics " 

1 After Empedocles. - De Imm. bk. iii. ch. 5. 


failed to be convinced by it. Bruno s very errors are 
interesting. Fire for example, far from being the 
outermost, lightest, subtlest element, was regarded by 
him as a body of which the substance, (light and heat 
being accidents} was water mixed with earth ; l and in 
general, he maintained, no element was ever found in 
isolation. As to the supposed coldness of the central 
element, the earth, he believed, again anticipating 
future discoveries, that the centre of the earth was not 
cold, but hot, the source of terrestrial warmth ; but the 
theory loses something of its value, scientifically, from 
the imagined vitality of the planet, by which it is 
supported.- It was natural that the coincidence of 
contraries should be brought to do duty against the 
maxim on which the Aristotelian view was really based 
namely, that contraries tend to rest at the greatest 
possible distance from one another, against which Bruno 
marshalled a whole army of facts. Away from the 
shadow of the earth there was perhaps no light but 
that of the sun, too strong for our eyes, for the 
daylight arose from a mixture of the light of the 
sun and the darkness of the earth ; we could see 
other colours by it, for the reason that they were 
similarly composed mixtures of light and darkness. 
The heat of the sun also was only bearable when 
tempered by the coolness of the earth or other 
planets. The body of the earth, great as it is, 
can bear this heat only through its swift revolution. 
As to the objection that if the earth moved we 
should feel its motion, Bruno remarked that when 
we are carried in a smoothly and continuously moving 
vehicle, not striking against any object, we do not 
perceive that we are moving, except by comparison with 

1 Op. Lat. i. I. p. 353. - P. 354. 



some object known to us to be fixed. Thus sense 
furnishes its own correction. 1 The differences in the 
distances of the planets from the sun, as seen from the 
earth, are explained much more readily by the 
assumption that they and the earth itself are moving 
about the sun, than by that of the centrality of the 
earth, which compelled astronomers to the complicated 
device of the epicycles. 2 The fact that the moon 
always turns the same face towards the earth dis 
proved the Ptolemaic theory : were it on an epi 
cycle, as was supposed, this would be impossible. 
According to the old doctrine, the earth was fixed 
immovably in the centre of the universe, while 
about it circled the spheres of sun, planets, and fixed 
stars. With Bruno, on the other hand, the centre of 
the universe is everywhere, or nowhere, in other words 
it is relative to the body on which the spectator is 
supposed to stand. 

The principle of continuous change was employed 
to explain, among other matters, the variation of the 
equinoxes, which was already known to occur ; but the 
continuous change was itself accounted for on teleologi- 
cal grounds.- " The motion which causes the poles to 
tremble, and the equinoctial and solstitial points to vary 
irregularly, is on account of the variations which are 
always taking place in parts of the earth ; for the frigid 
zones may not always be frigid, nor the torrid, torrid ; 
all parts must rest and have holiday from each kind of 
affect, and consequently take up every kind of dis 
position successively." ..." The centre of the earth, 
therefore, and its position relatively to the poles, will 

1 Op. Lot. i. i. p. 329. 

2 The saying of King Alfonso in this regard is worth repetition, that "had he 
been consulted at the creation of the world he would have spared the Maker some 


vary." No star ever repeats one day the revolution 
of the previous, or any one year that of another. 
Mathematical exactness, as we have seen, is never 
found in the material world : the earth may not always 
present the same face to the sun, so that one pole must 
at length pass into the place of the other a change 
which must occur sensibly and continuously, and 
irregularly, as natural bodies and elements of bodies 
are naturally in continuous alteration and movement. 
" The same composite body is never in exactly the 
same state at any two moments, nor consists of quite 
the same parts, for from all sides and everywhere there 
is, necessarily, an unceasing influx and efflux of 
elementary bodies." 2 The stars and planets are 
compared to a flock of birds, which float hither 
and thither in the clear ether, guided only by their 
desires. 3 Never does the flock present precisely the 
same appearance twice. In nature the law is vicissitude 
and succession, so that each thing may in actual fact 
come to be all things. 4 

All the stars consist of the same elements, since Earths and 
water cannot subsist without earth, nor fire without S 
water ; but in some stars the aqueous element pre 
dominates (planets), in others the igneous (suns). 
From sameness of appearance and of effects (accidents] 
we may infer sameness of substance. It is clear 
therefore to Bruno that moon, planets, stars, are all 
of precisely the same substance as the earth. It is 
unnecessary to point out by how long a period this 

1 Op. Lot. i. i. p. 360. 2 P. 362, cf. supra. 

* P. 369 (ch. 7)- 

" Promptius utque magis quavis pernice volucrum 
Versum quaque meent, immensumque aera fimiant 
Intima nempe animae vis concitat ilia, " etc. 
* P. 372. 


brilliant philosophical faith preceded the slower if surer 
march of science. The great worlds of the universe 
are of two kinds the suns, in which fire is the pre 
dominating element, and from which light is diffused ; 
and the earths or planets, in which water predominates 
and which reflects light. To the first class belong 
the so-called fixed stars, from which our sun would 
appear no larger and no brighter than they appear to 
us ; to the second belong the moon, Mercury, and 
other planets, all in one and the same ethereal space, 
suspended in free air and balanced by their own weight 
as is our earth. In all are seas and woods, rivers, 
men, cattle, reptiles, birds, fishes, as on the earth, and 
in all the same continuous changes occur. 1 No one 
is in the centre of the universe rather than another, 
for about all equally extends immeasurable space with 
its innumerable stars. Of these "first bodies" one 
kind could not exist without the other, for it is by the 
concourse of contraries and opposites that nature 
provides for movement, life, and growth in things. 
About each of the scintillating stars, or suns, which we 
see, there must circle planets which are for the most 
part invisible to us, but which may become visible. 2 
In the same way, both on account of the smallness of 
their bodies, and especially on that of the less intensity 
of reflected light in comparison with light of original 
force, the planets which are about our fixed star, the 
sun, would not be seen from any of the others. The 
discovery in the last half- century of what is almost 
certainly a satellite of Sirius confirms in this also 
Comets. Bruno s " anticipation of nature." Another of these 
was his theory of comets, 3 which he held to be of the 

1 DC Imm. bk.__w. ch. 3. - Ch. 8 (p. 4 z f.). 

3 Ch. 4, Schol. cf. bk. iv. ch. 13 (Of. Lat. \. z. 67). 

ir COMETS 213 

same nature as planets, and to move in similar orbits. 
He believed also that there were other solar planets 
which never appeared to us because their position in the 
heavens precluded their reflecting any of the sun s rays 
to us : a belief to which the reported eclipses of the 
sun by occult bodies has given some support. The 
shape of the comet, with its appendages, was only 
apparent, Bruno said, and was due to the angle made 
by the light reflected from its surface. In another 
reference, however, he compares it with the oblique 
reflection of light from a mirror, or from the surface 
of water ; it is the watery matter, the vapours which are 
drawn out by the warmth of the sun, that give the un 
usual reflection. 1 This shows how nearly he approached 
the modern theory. In the true spirit of the Renais 
sance, however, he appealed to the authority of the 
ancients, of Aeschylus and Hipparchus of Chios, who, 
according to Aristotle, regarded the comets as planets. 2 
The comets of the sixteenth century, 3 so far as observed, 
went wholly against the received view that their orbits 
must lie within the sphere of the moon, and proved that 
the substance of bodies beyond that sphere was the same 
as the elementary substance of the earth, as well as that 
there was penetrable space beyond. Both of these to 
Bruno were important consequences. Still greater, how 
ever, was their importance for humanity, in removing the 
grounds of the terror which comets and other heavenly 
wonders had hitherto inspired. " There are some," said 
Bruno, " who rest their faith in a virtue above and beyond 
nature, saying that God, who is above nature, creates 
these appearances in the heavens in order to signify 
something to us : as if those were not better, nay the 

1 De Imm. bk. yi. ch. 19. 2 Op, Lat. \. z. p. 230. 

5 153 1 * 1 53*, 1572, 1577) 1 5$5- ( Bk - v. chs. 9 and 13.) 


very best, signs of divinity which arise in the ordinary 
course of nature ; among which are those of which we 
speak, for they also are not apart from this order, 
although their order is hidden from us." 

To account for the many appearances which seemed 
to conflict with his new view of the universe, Bruno 
had recourse to several slight experiments and analogies 
of daily observation such as a schoolmaster might 
employ at the present day before his class, 1 but by 
which even a man of Kepler s intelligence refused then 
to be convinced ; at least he would not openly profess 
his conviction. Among other fruitful suggestions 
which Bruno makes is that the sun may perhaps turn 
on its own axis, and again that it may contain vapour 
and earth. 2 He had a curious theory that the heat of 
the sun is only directed outward from the surface, not 
inwards ; that this is the general course of radiation ; 
and that it leaves an inner surface of the sun cold, 
on which solar animals live ; finally that meteors are 
" animals " expelled from the sun ! So always the 
fruitful idea is accompanied by the absurd. 

From the principle of the identity of nature it 
follows that bodies which are remote from us are the 
same in kind with those that are with us and near us ; 
nothing may be denied of the former which is affirmed 
of the latter, and vice versa. There can be no doubt, 
therefore, of their similar composition and similar 
parts. Thus if here on the earth we nowhere see fire 
subsisting without earth, nowhere earth without water 
or fire, while their composites are both contained in 
and penetrated by air and void, then the same is 
necessarily the case in the upper world also ; neither 
sense nor reason compels us to assert or suspect other- 

1 E.g. De Imm. b!c. iv. ch. 5. 2 Ib. ch. 7. 


wise. 1 Bruno has grasped, however confusedly, the 
idea that e.ach individual, each being in the uni 
verse, is as it were an epitome of the universe itself; 
that each therefore stands in a peculiar relation to it, 
differing from it only in the " proportion " in which the 
elements are composed into unity. It is impossible not to 
see in this idea the germ of the most important develop 
ment of Leibniz philosophy, whatever the source may 
have been through which it came to the latter. It is 
true that here, at least, Bruno s conception appears 
much less spiritual than that of his successor, inasmuch 
as he is thinking rather of the actual physical elements 
which go to make up a body (and in which all bodies 
are similar to one another). On the other hand, the 
formation of the body is, in his view, the work of 
the soul, and it is in the last resort the identity of the 
universal soul of nature in all its members that brings 
each of these into correspondence with all others. It 
is true, also, that Bruno has no definite explanation 
of what constitutes an individual, and his readers are 
exposed to the dilemma either of regarding the 
physical atoms as themselves a beseelt" a view which 
Bruno nowhere sanctions, or, on the other hand, of 
accepting a dualism of spirit (the soul of the universe 
or God) and matter (the material atoms, moisture, fire, 
and ether). Yet the tenour of Bruno s philosophy is 
wholly opposed to such a dualism. As a corollary of 
this theory, Bruno suggested an explanation of what has 
been called " spontaneous generation," supported, how 
ever, by tales of the credulous rather than by actual 
observation. " Dust that has been heated by the sun, 
as soon as moisture falls upon it, becomes a frog, the 
whole substance of dung goes into worms or flies, the 

1 De Imm. bk. v. ch. z (p. 119). 


body of a horse will turn into wasps, the provident bee 
rises from the body of an ox ! M As each thing is in 
its inner nature identical with every other, so it may, 
and in the natural course dees, become every other, as 
we have learned from the Italian works. Nevertheless, 
the outward appearances of things do not cease to be 
different from one another. " That is more latent in 
one subject which is more unfolded in the remainder." 
" The subject of all is one (nwnas), and all things are in 
truth one, although in individuals they seem to be 

Movements The movements of the earth and of other free- 
theirVoui- moving bodies are always attributed by Bruno to an 
principle. internal principle or soul." Movement from without 
could only take place through direct contact, and 
the liquid air or ether is too light to move these 
heavy bodies.- " It is taking things by the wrong end 
to say that the loadstone attracts the iron, the amber 
the straw, the sun the sunflower. In the iron there is a 
kind of sense, awakened by a spiritual (i.e. a subtly 
material) virtue diffused from the loadstone, . . . and 
generally everything that desires and has intelligence 
moves towards the thing desired, converts itself into it 
as far as possible, beginning with the wish to be in the 
same place." By the same principle are explained the 
phenomena of _granity> which is defined as impulse 
towards the place of preservation, such as the earth is 
to the stone that has formed part of it ; its opposite, 
" levity^ is impulse away from the contrary or the 
injurious. " Gravity and levity are nothing but the 
impulse of parts to their place, where they may either 
move or be at rest, or to a place through which it is 
necessary for them to go (in the circular movement of 

1 Op. Lat. i. 2. p. 147. a Ccria, Lag. 183. 30. 



all material things)." Thus the motions of the heavy 
and the light are merely relative movements ; the same 
kind of motion does not belong always to the same 
kind of substance or element. 1 

The movement of the stars is determined not 
by considerations of place only, but also by the 
necessity that bodies of one kind are under of deriving 
sustenance from those of another, the suns from the 
earths and the earths from the suns. It is through the 
soul that their needs are felt, and the soul directs their 
movements as does the human soul those of the human 
body. There are, however, no fixed limits to their 
movements : they are governed only by the convenience 
of life, as perceived by the sense and mind, which are 
inborn in each. By this fantastic principle Bruno 
explained what he thought to be the fact, that all 
heavenly bodies whatsoever are in movement ; or 
perhaps we should say he inferred the fact from the 
principle : which was first in the order of his thought 
it would be impossible to know. Like most of his 
contemporaries he looked upon the conception of a soul 
in all things with peculiar reverence 

Porgimus haec paufis, vulgus prccul esto prophanum, 
Ne liceat laico sacrum conscendere montem, 

The method by which Bruno sought to know the 
nature of the souls of the worlds is one which the 
course of modern philosophy has rendered familiar to 
us in other connections. It rests upon the argument 
from the part to the whole. " Whatever we find in a 
part of the world belongs, in a higher sense (sublimius), 
to the whole, and must be attributed to it. All the 

1 Lag. 184. 35 } Acrot. Art. 68 ; Infnito, 370. 29, 375. 6, 390. 34 ; Acrot. Art. 
So (i. i. 189), etc. 


capacities of each part are attributed to the whole that 
is, their perfections and activities, not the qualities they 
possess as parts, and as less than the whole in any 
respect." Thus the hindrances to which lesser in 
dividuals are exposed, the necessity of taking in and 
giving out matter as their forms change, exist in the 
greater individual in a minimal degree. But in all 
parts of the earth Bruno found signs of life, sensation, 
and even intelligence. Stones of different kinds were 
universally believed to have a kind of sensibility and 
instinct : to move of their own accord, attract other 
bodies to themselves, act upon our human spirits and 
senses. The phenomena of animal instinct were a 
constant object of interest to Bruno, who saw in them 
the expression of a deeper intelligence than the merely 
human. It is true the observations on which he built 
may not always have been exact ; but that does not 
detract from the value of his principle. Thus the 
porcupine (istrix} moved his admiration because of 
its careful storing up of a stock of darts in its back, 
with which to protect its life ; it could, with unerring 
aim, cast one at its enemy, hearing, it is said, with its 
skin ; and its precision far surpassed all that the cunning 
of man, with his many instruments, could do. With 
perfect skill it threw its darts, yet sparingly, so that no 
part of its body was ever defenceless, the spirit directing 
all its actions from one centre, to which, from every 
part of the body, report was made ! " With how much 
higher reason will the_j/<2r be endowed, of the body of 
which animals are made, by whose spirit they flourish ? 
So the earth from one centre directs all its actions and 
those of its parts ; it never errs, neither it nor any 
of the worlds which dwell in the immeasurable ether." 1 

1 De Intm. bk. v. ch. i. 


Bruno rejected l the popular notion that the behaviour 
of ants, spiders, and other animals does not spring from 
their proper foresight and artifice, but from divine, 
unerring intelligence acting upon them from without, 
giving them those " thrusts " (s-pinte} which are called 
"natural instincts" a term which he regarded as 
meaningless. " Is this * natural instinct sense or 


intellect? If the former, is it internal or external? 
Clearly it is not external ; but if internal, where is 
the internal sense from which they could have their 
foresight, their arts and artifices, their precautions, 
expeditions, to meet various conditions, both present 
and future ? There must be some proximate principle, 
i.e. a form of intelligence peculiar to each animal, 
which determines its actions. The divine and universal 
intelligence is merely the principle that gives it intelli 
gence, through which it understands." The action of 
animals of a given kind were supposed to be after one 
perfect model, and to be undeliberate. Bruno there 
fore placed their intelligence higher than that of man, 
nearer the level of that of the world-souls. " The 
swallow makes its nest, the ants their cave, the spiders 
their web or nets, in one way only, than which they 
could not make them more admirably or suitably. . . . 
Who knows whether the spirit of man is rising upwards, 
that of others moving downwards ? At least it is to 
be referred to a defect of light and divine force that 
men hesitate and deliberate in all that belongs to the 
means of life, the modes of worship and defence, for if 
all knew perfectly, all would be governed in the best, 
and consequently in one way only." It is, then, on 
the analogy of these supposed higher, unerring faculties 
of animals that Bruno considers the souls of the worlds 

1 Ctna, Lag. 185. 4. 2 Cabala, p. 587. 23 ff. 


to think and act. They have perfect freedom, since 
their life and soul are their own, not borrowed, as ours. 
" Thus as we breathe, see, sleep, without labour or 
anxiety, and while our soul performs the function of 
lite, the vital humours and spirits continually circulate, 
so these, the chief members of the world, divine animals, 
have no need to undergo any anxious toil, for all things 
with them are done for the best." Their fixed aim of 
life defines for them certain determinate orbits, " in 
which they move freely by the force of that soul which 
is much more certainly present in these high, perfect, 
divine bodies than in us, of more ignoble condition, 
who draw from them spirit and body, come forth living 
out of their bosom, are nourished by them, and at 
length are dissolved and received back into them." ] 

It is to the internal spirit also that the spherical form 
of the worlds is due. The so-called mountains of the 
earth do not in the least detract from its spherical form. 
Bruno anticipated modern science in his discovery or 
intuition that the real mountains are not those we are 
accustomed to call such, but immense tracts of country, 
the whole of France, for example. " I find the whole 
country of France to be one mountain, which rises 
gradually from the North Sea to Auvergne, where is 
its summit, marked on the west by the Pyrenees, where 
the Garonne flows, on the east by the Rhone, on the 
south by the Mediterranean Sea." The whole earth 
is, however, as smooth in reality as is to us the pumice 
stone, which to the ant seems furrowed with mountains 

1 On movements of suns and earths, as determined by the soul, and the need of 
mutual sustenance, cf. Acrtt. Arts. 65, 66, 67, 72. 

2 Cf. Ctria, Lag. 166. 32, where it is suggested that the Alps and Pyrenees once 
formed the summit of a very high mountain, gradually broken up, through con 
tinuous geological changes, into the lesser forms we now call mountains. So the 
whok of Britain is a mountain, rising up out of the sea ; its summit is the highest 
point, Scotland. 



and valleys. It is on teleological grounds that Bruno 
accounts for this sphericity. Composite things are 
preserved through the harmony and union of their 
parts, while decay arises from dissolution. But such 
harmony and union are best secured by the spherical 
form : towards this form, then, every soul aspires in 
the moulding of its body. The most perfect animals, 
the stars, having fewer limitations, have the greater 
advantages ; being almost independent, free, self- 
sufficient, they are most closely united in themselves, 
i.e. tend most nearly to the purely spherical form. 1 

However perfect they are, thejstars are yet of mortal 
stuff. " You may say if you will that the worlds change 
and decay in old age, or that the earth seems to grow 
grey with years, and that all the great animals of the 
universe perish like the small, for they change, decay, 
dissolve. Matter, weary of old forms, eagerly snatches 
after new, for it desires to become all things, and to 
resemble, as far as may be, all being." The efflux and 
influx of atomic matter into the great bodies is con 
tinuous, and this is the only kind of motion which is 
unceasing. 2 a As the conflux of native matter is greater, 
so the bodies grow more and more, and increase up to 
a certain limit, on touching which they grow weary and 
become subject to a contrary order ; as about the seed 
atoms are gathered and added continuously until the 
body and its limbs reach their maturity, when the same 
parts are cast out from the centre, and the breaking up 
of the composite is presented to our eyes." Hence 

1 De Imm. bk. iv. ch. 18. 

Cf. Infinite, Lag. 351. 30, on the gradual changes of the earth s surface, which 
Bruno infers are present, although imperceptible, in other stars also. Cf. ib. 332. 15, 
and De Imm., bks. iv. and vi. ; Acrot. Arts. 48 and 74. In Inf. 353. 30, rocks, 
lakes, rivers, springs, etc., are compared to the different members or organs of the 
human body : the accidents or disturbances of them, clouds, rain, snow, etc., to 
the diseases of the human body. 


there are atoms innumerable roaming through the void, 
while infinite changes succeed one another in bodies. 
Those in one region receive the atoms repulsed from 
another : there is no danger of their straying infinitely 
without reaching a goal, for everywhere are great bodies 
to receive what is expelled from other stars. 

Composite as the worlds are, capable, therefore, of 
dissolution and destruction, yet, as Timaeus had sug 
gested, the power and providence of the divine purpose 
may maintain them eternally as they are. 



THE reaction against Aristotelianism had, as one of its 
results, a renascence of the atomic theory of Democritus 
and Lucretius ; and one of the earliest adherents of 
the renovated doctrine was Bruno. Although a com 
plete presentation of the theory was not given until 
his later works, the De Minimo and the Articuli adv. 
Mathematicos, appeared, yet already in the Italian 
dialogues there were frequent references to it. In 
the Cena? for example, it is said that in the physical 
division of a finite body infinite progress is impossible, 
and, as we shall afterwards find, in Bruno there is no 
distinction between physical and mathematical divi 
sion. Again, in the Cena an animistic atomism is 
suggested, which presents a curious anticipation of 
some of Leibniz characteristic views. " It is more 
than probable, as all things partake of life, that many 
or innumerable individuals live not only in us, but in 
all composite things ; when anything " dies," as is said, 
we must believe it to be not death, but change only ; 
the accidental composition or concord ceases, the things 
that enter into it remaining always immortal ; and this 
is truer of those things we call spiritual than of those 

1 A trotismui : De Minima. " Lag. p. 158. 



we call corporeal or material." Thus every body or 
organism, for all bodies are organisms to Bruno, is itself 
constituted by other living beings, the atoms living 
atoms being alike the origin and the end of all. So 
Leibniz wrote : " Every living body has a presiding 
entelechy, which is the soul in the animal ; but the 
members of this living body are full of other living 
beings plants, animals, each of which, again, has its 
entelechy or presiding soul." In the Infinito Bruno 
refers to the continuous changes of all composite bodies 
as arising from the ceaseless flux of atoms out of and 
into each body, even the greater " animals," the stars 
and planets, sending out particles, which wander 
through the universe from one to another. 3 Again, 
when discussing the four elements, he ascribes to water 
the power of holding together the atoms of earth, or 
" the dry." " If from the earth all water were to be 
removed, so that there remained purely dry matter, 
this remainder would necessarily be an incoherent, rare, 
loose substance, easy to be dispersed through the air, 
in the form of innumerable discontinuous bodies ; for 
while the air or ether makes a continuum, that which 
makes a coherent continuum is water or moisture." 4 
These indivisible " prime bodies," of which the worlds 
are originally composed, are spoken of as flying 
throughout space from world to world, in infinite 
movement, entering now into this, now into that 
"composition." Finally, in the Spaccio, we are re 
minded that a every trifle, however worthless, is of 
value in the order of the whole, the universe, for great 
things are composed of little, little things of the least, 

1 Lag. 164. 18. 2 Monadclogy, 70. Cf. also 64, 66, 67-69. 

3 Lag. 332. 

4 Lag. 357. 10 ; cf. 334. 24, 359. 13, 393. 5, and Her. Fur. 738. 17. 
5 Lag. 367. 12, 375. 37. 


and these of the individuals (or indivisibles) or minima." l 
In its main outlines, accordingly, Bruno s atomic theory 
was already formed in his mind when he wrote his 
earlier philosophical works, and even some of his 
peculiar applications of it had already suggested them 
selves. It is hardly possible, therefore, to find any 
very marked development in this regard between the 
London and the Frankfort periods. There is elabora 
tion and completion rather than development in any 
definite direction ; 2 and, as we have seen, the writing 
of the larger works, containing the developed system, 
was projected in London, and even carried out to a 
certain extent before Bruno left England. 3 In the 
Acrotismus, which occupies a middle place between the 
two periods, the doctrine is equally in evidence, in 
reference both to the atoms and to the continuous ether 
in which they move. " There is a limit to the division of 
nature an indivisible something ; the division of nature 
arrives at ultimate_mmimal parts, unapproachable by 
human instruments. Of these minimal bodies every 
sensible body is composed, and such a body, resolved 
into its minima, can retain no semblance of complexity ; 
for these are the first bodies out of which all others are 
made, and which are, in the truest sense, the matter of 
all things that have corporeal existence. Resolved into 
these parts, stone has no look of stone, flesh of flesh, 
bone of bone ; in their elements, bone, stone, and flesh 
do not differ, but only when formed out of these, com 
pounded, compacted, and arranged in diverse manners, 
do flesh, stone, and bone and other things become 
different one from another." 4 And Bruno describes 
how, between the heavenly bodies, there is a substance, 

1 Lag. 455. 37. 2 Contrast Tocco, Ofere Latine di G.B., part 5. 

3 Florentine s Preface to Of. Lat. vol. i. p. xxviii. 4 Acrot. Cam. Art. 42, p. 154. 



" ingenerable and incorruptible, the immeasurable air, 
a kind of spiritual body " the ether. 1 

object of Its full extension, however, the theory receives in 
the De Minima, where the atom, or corporeal unity, is 
not the sole minimum discussed. The full title of the 
work is : " On the threefold minimum, and measure, 
being the principles of the three speculative sciences and 
of many practical arts." We find nowhere any distinct 
statement as to what Bruno meant by the " threefold 
minimum," and the three speculative sciences to which 
its several members refer. It was supposed that the 
minima were (i) the monad or unity which is the unit 
of number, (2) the point, which is the unit of the line, 
and (3) the atom, which is the unit of body. But 
arithmetic and geometry can hardly be called specula 
tive sciences, and Tocco has shown that Bruno had in 
view the triad of God, the soul and the atom the three 
kinds of simple substance, each immortal and inde 
structible : God as the supreme and most simple unity, 
Monad of Monads ; soul as that which lives in each 
composite being and holds in unity the atoms which 
from time to time enter into its composition ; and the 
atom, the most simple of material substances, in the 
sum of which, with their containing ether, the material 
universe consists. Had Bruno carried out his sub 
division of the speculative sciences, he would probably 
have referred God, as the substance of all reality, to a 
speculative theology, of Neoplatonist type ; soul as the 
simple substance of animate beings to metaphysics 
proper ; and the atoms, the substance of body, to a 
speculative physics, dealing with the metaphysical pre 
suppositions of the general theory of nature, which was 
set forth in the De Immenso. The scheme, however, 

1 Acrc,t. Cam, Art 65. 



was never fully carried out, 1 the times being not yet 
ripe for the complete separation of the speculative and 
the experimental or observational sciences. In referring 
the atomic theory to metaphysics, Bruno showed a true Atomism 

J . . . ~ a meta- 

instinct, for while in one sense atomism is a scientific physical 
hypothesis capable of furnishing laws which explain the 
interaction of bodies, the corpuscular theory, and as 
such has proved its value by the brilliant developments 
of recent years, on the other hand, it is also a presup 
position of knowledge, a ground of the possibility of 
our knowledge of body, and therefore has its place in 
speculative theory, or metaphysics, in the widest sense. 
Both points of view are presented in Bruno s doctrine, 
but that from which he starts is the epistemological, 
following in this the guidance of Nicholas of Cusa. 

Knowledge is measurement, and all measure implies Knowledge 

V . / . r implies the 

a minimum in each kind of being. Were it possible to atom. 
subdivide anything ad infinitum, the half would be 
potentially equal to the whole, and measurement frus 
trated. There must be a limit to division, an ultimate 
part, which itself has no parts, and which is the sub 
stance of the composition into which it enters, the com 
position on the other hand being an "accident" of this 
minimum. As it is primarily a condition of measure 
ment, the minimum differs in the different spheres of Relativity 

111 1-11 r of mim " 

measure or knowledge to which the category or mum. 
quantity applies. In magnitudes of one or two dimen 
sions it is the point, in bodies the atom, in numbers the 
monad or unity. Thus number is accident of the 
monad, monad is the essence of number, as composition 
is accident of the atom, atom is essence of the com 
posite. Again, the " sensible minimum " must be far 
greater than the natural or real minimum, for in so far 

1 Vide De Min. p. 211 (bk. ii. ch. 6). 


as minimum is qualified by sensible, it is implied that 
the minimum is not absolutely such, but is a composite. 
The minimum of taste, touch, etc., must possess certain 
qualities, by which it has relation to sense, and these 
can derive only from some form of composition. In 
their primary form the minima of nature must be 
without difference ; therefore that some are sensible, 
others not, must be due to some addition in the 
former. 1 

Thus each species of existence, as light, moisture, 
vital force, 2 has its own minimum, and the minimum is 
relative in this sense also, that there are different kinds 
of existence not resolvable one into another : the abso 
lute minimum would be God, who is also the absolute 
maximum. The relative minimum, accordingly, is 
determined either by the thought and design of the 
observer, or by the species of existence to which the 
subject belongs ; nature has set limits^ both lower and 
upper, within which the individual of any species must 
stay, or cease to belong to that species. Accordingly, 
what one regards as great and composite, another may 
take as first and minimum : the unit of one science may 
be analysed in another into further elements. " Pyth 
agoras in his philosophy started with the monad and 
numbers ; Plato with atoms, lines and surfaces ; Empe 
docles with the four elements ; the physicians with the 
four humours, and so on ; but the Pythagorean monad is 
prior to the placed monad (the atom), Plato s matter of 
bodies to the qualified bodies of Empedocles, the four 
simple bodies of Empedocles to the four first combina 
tions of these, the four humours. So to the universe 
the whole solar system, the sun and all its planets, may 
be a simple unit." 3 

1 De Min. bk. i. ch. 9. 2 Ib. Sckol. (p. 170). 3 Ch. 10. 


Here Bruno suggests two principles for the classifi 
cation and systematising of the sciences, to which it 
would have been well had he himself and his successors 
faithfully adhered. The one is, that the modes of 
measurement, i.e. the methods and laws of the sciences, 
must differ for the different kinds of existence studied: 
that a biological law, for example, cannot be adopted 
as an explanation of mental phenomena, nor the atomic 
theory account for the phenomena of life. On the 
other hand there are orders of existence, according to 
the complexity of the subjects involved. If we regard 
the science which deals with the more concrete subject 
as " higher," then each higher science (e.g. psychology) 
must take for granted the principles and results of each 
lower science (biology, physics, mathematics), each 
must adopt and retain a unit for itself, which it has not 
further to analyse. 

In the same way the minima offer a ground for the The 

. . _ . . ,. "minima 

distinction of the more abstract sciences one rrom ,- n the 
another. The term " individual nature " (atoma natura] t c ^ s O fi f ca ~ 
may, according to Bruno, have one of several uses. It sci e n s. 
may be applied either "negatively or privatively, and if 
negatively, then either accidentally or substantially." 
His instance of the accidental use is a voice or sound, 
which expands spherically, is wholly wherever it is, i.e. 
the full content of the sound is heard, wherever its in 
fluence extends, not a part here, a part there, although 
the intensity may vary in degree. Of the substantial 
use examples are the spirit, which is wholly in the whole 
body of man, or that spirit which is in the whole extent of 
the life of the earth, by whose life we live and in which 
we have our being, or, above this substantial nature or 
individual soul, that of the universe, and supreme above 
all, the mind of minds, God, one spirit completely filling 



all things. 1 The atom-nature is privatively so-called, 
when it is the element and substance of a magnitude which 
is the same in kind with it, and may be reduced to it, and 
it is distinguished from the atom negatively so-called, 
because it is not divisible, either in genus or in species, 
either per se or per accidem. Examples are, ( i ) in dis 
crete quantities : unity to the mathematician, the uni 
versal proposition to the logician, the syllable to the 
grammarian ; and (2) in continuous quantities, varying 
with the species of continuum: the minimal pain, 
sweetness, colour, light, triangle, circle, straight line, 
curve ; in duration, the instant ; in place, the minimal 
space ; in length and breadth, the point ; in body, the 
least and first body. 

Minimum In the second place, the atom or minimum is also a 
metaphysical TTOV aro) ; not only is it the last result of 
analysis, but it is also the permanent substance of being, 
and again it contains all being in itself it is essence of 
.being. Thus such an individual nature " never comes 
into existence by way of generation, nor passes out of 
it by way of corruption or dissolution ; only per accidens 
may we say that it now is, now is not." Certain of 
them, however, the souls, deities, God, are in their intrinsic 
nature eternal, immortal, indissoluble. Of these it was 
Bruno s intention to treat at large in a Metaphysics and 
a De Anima which he purposed to write " if God granted 
him time." Unfortunately, it was willed otherwise. 

Nothing that becomes, changes, decays, is real 
(ens^). It is by meditating on this perpetual unity of 
nature, by conforming ourselves, and preserving 
ourselves in likeness to it, that we come to partake 
in the life of the gods, and to deserve the name 

1 Of. Lat. i. 3. p. 209. 2 This thought recurs in Leibniz. 

3 Of>. Lat. i. 3. pp. 209-211. 


of substance. That which time, movement, fate bring 
to us is nought ; for while they are, they are not. 
" Let us then," cries Bruno, " supply the mind with 
material, in the contemplation of the minimum, through 
which it may exalt itself to the maximum." l Since the 
real minimum, whether atom or soul, is immortal and 
indestructible, we know, as Pythagoras saw, that there 
is no death, but only transition ; death is a dissolution 
which can occur only to the composite, for the com 
posite is never substance, but is always adventitious. 
Otherwise we should be changing our substance every 
moment with the continuous influx of atoms into our 
bodies. Only by the individual substance of the soul 
are we that which we are ; about it as a centre, which 
is everywhere in its whole being (ubique totum], the dis- 
gregation and aggregation of atoms takes place. 
According to a law of the soul-world, all bodies and 
forces tend to the spherical form ; God, as monad of 
monads, is the perfect or infinite sphere, of which the 
centre is at once nowhere and everywhere ; and in Him 
(as in all minima, simple substances, monads) all oppo- 
sites coincide, the many and the few, finite and infinite ; 
therefore that which is minimum is also maximum, or 
anything between these, each is all things, the greatest 
and the whole. 2 Therefore, if contemplation is to 
follow in the footsteps of nature, it must begin, con 
tinue, and end with the minimum: In other words, the 
minimum in each sphere of being contains implicitly in 
itself the whole reality of that sphere. The minimum is 
its substance, not merely the ultimate of analysis, but 
the actual source, the dynamic origin of reality, as God 
is implicitly the whole universe and also the source of 
the universe as it actually exists. It is because the 

1 Op. Lat. i. 3. p. 208. 2 P. 147. i. 3 P. 149. 3. 




of all 

Sense and 


minimum is all reality, is the maximum, that the know 
ledge of it gives us that of the whole. 

In the third place the atomic theory offers an 
explanation of the uniqueness of each natural existence, 
which Bruno s philosophical theory already assumed. 
The ever moving atoms present a mechanism by which 
the infinite diversity and infinite succession of change 
in things may be brought about. The appearance of 
similarity, exactness, etc., is, as we have found, an 
illusion. Mathematically exact figures or bodies a 
true circle, for example are unattainable by sense, 
even if they exist in nature ; but they do not exist in 
nature. Sense is the primary faculty, through which 
the material of all others must pass, so that what has 
not entered through that window of the soul cannot 
be known at all. But a single point out of place on 
the circumference of a circle makes it cease to be a 
true circle, and our sense-apprehension is necessarily 
so confused and indistinct that we cannot distinguish 


between the true and the false, where truth depends 
upon so inappreciable a difference. Moreover sense- 
Reiativity. knowledge is relative to the knowing subject, or to 
the subject s position with regard to the object. What 
to the eye of one is too large is to another too small ; 
a sound which is pleasant to one ear is not so to 
another ; the food which to the hungry man tastes 
sweet, to the full man is nauseous ; the ape to the ape 
is beautiful, but to the man is of laughter-inspiring 
ugliness. Hence the circumspect will not say " this 
has a good odour, taste, sound, this has a beautiful 
appearance," but will add " to me," " now," " some 
times." Nothing is good or evil, pleasant or painful, 
beautiful or ugly, simply and absolutely ; but the same 
objects in relation to individual subjects receive from 


the senses contrary denominations, as they in fact 
produce contrary effects. In deciding what is to be 
called good or bad, honourable or base, nature and 
custom have been the chief agents, and alterations have 
issued from the slow rise and. victory of different 
opinions. Among the Druids and Magi certain things 
were performed publicly at sacrifices which now, even 
when committed in privacy, are regarded as execrable, 
and are so by way of law, and in the present condition 
of affairs. Philosophy, as it teaches to abstract from 
particulars, to bring the nature and condition of things 
as far as possible under an absolute judgment, must 
define differently the useful and good in an absolute 
sense, from the useful and good as contracted to the 
human species. Objectively there is no definitely 
good or definitely evil, definitely true or definitely 
false, so that from one point of view we may say that 
all things are good ; from another that all things are 
evil ; from a third that nothing is good or evil, as 
neither of the contraries is true ; from a fourth that 
all things are both good and evil, as each of the 
contraries is true. No sense deceives or is deceived : 
each judges of its proper object according to its own 
measure. There is no higher tribunal to which to 
refer its object, nor can reason judge of colour any 
more than can the ear ; sensible truth does not follow 
any general or universal rule, but one which is 
particular, mutable, and variable. In the working of 
an external sense there may be different degrees of 
perfection or defect, but not of truth or falsity, which 
consist in the reference of the subject and predicate 
to one another. The faculty by which we judge this 
or that to be true colour or light, and distinguish from 
apparent colour or light, is not in the eye. To affirm 


that man is an animal, we must know both man and 
animal, know that animal nature is in man, and other 
things which, as means or circumstances, concur directly 
or indirectly in this knowledge. External sense can 
apprehend only one species or image of the object; 
from the colour and figure to pass to its name, its 
truth, its difference from other objects, belongs to a 
judgment more inward faculty. Yet the latter is always based 

based upon j r i 

sensation, upon sense ; a deaf man can neither imagine nor dream 
of sounds which he has never heard, nor a blind man 
of colours and figures which he has never seen. 1 This 
digression on the relativity of knowledge, and on the 
different functions of sense and reason, in which Bruno 
follows partly the teaching of Lucretius, partly the 
Peripatetic doctrine of knowledge, shows that even if 
a true or perfectly exact geometrical figure existed in 
nature, none of the faculties with which we are endowed 
could apprehend it, since it is not given by external 
sense. 2 

NO exact- But in the second place 3 reason tells us that no 

ness or . - . MI- r 

similarity true circle, or other figure, is possible in nature : for 
posltes! there is in nature no similarity except in the atoms ; 
a true circle would imply the equality of all lines from 
the centre, but no two lines in nature are entirely and 
in all respects equal to one another. The circle or 
part of a circle which appears most perfect to us the 
rainbow is an illusion of the senses, due to the 
reflection of the light of the sun from the clouds ; so 
the circles made by a stone falling into water cannot be 
perfect, for this would mean that the stone itself is 
perfectly spherical, that the water is everywhere of the 
same density, that no wind is playing upon its sur 
face. Sound is not equally diffused owing to differ- 

1 De Min. bk. ii. ch. 3, pp. 191 ff. 2 P. 195. 20. 3 Ch. 4. 

HAT H ?C IX I H Ml* H ^ Tl T H H TH P? o 1 f 

/v i . i -. i i /v ii j x rM > v^.LiO \ J \ \ A_/Jv ^ \ k 

O J 

ences in the density and rarity of the air, nor is the 
horizon ever a perfect circle, owing to differences of 
clearness in different directions. Object and faculty 
alike are in continuous change ; all natural things are 
continually altering their form or changing their 
position ; therefore although they seem to sense to 
remain fixed for a time, we know that this is impossible, 
from the nature of things. 1 Whatsoever falls in the 
scope of sense-perception, even the distant sphere 
and stars, we judge to consist of the same elements, 
therefore to be subject equally to perpetual variability 
and vicissitude. Thus the atoms alone being simple, 
and remaining ever the same no composite thing can be 
the same for one moment even, as each is being altered 
continually in all parts and on all sides by the efflux 
and influx of innumerable atoms. 2 " Hence nothing is 
perfectly straight, nothing perfectly circular among 
composites, nothing_jibsp!u^ the atoms, 

nothing absolutely void but the spaces between them." 
The facet oF a 3iamond appears to be a perfect plane, 
perfectly compact, yet in reality it is rough and porous. 3 
In matter no two lines or figures are entirely equal, 
nor can the same figure be repeated twice. 4 No man 
is twice of the same weight, the very instruments by 
which we measure and weigh things are themselves in 
constant change, and the flux of atoms is never equal, 
but now denser, now rarer. In general no two things 
are of the same weight, length, sound, or number, nor 
are two motions or parts of motion ever the same. 
To say that ten trees are equal to ten others is to speak 
merely from a logical point of view, for in fact each 
is one in a peculiar and special sense. 5 " Equality is 

1 Op. Lat. i. 3. p. 199. 15. - P. 200. 20. 3 P. 200. 28, 201. 4; cf. 223. n. 
4 De Min. bk. ii. ch. 5. 5 P. 203. 27. 


only in those things which are permanent and the same ; 
changing bodies are unequal to themselves at any two 
instants." " Nothing variable or composite consists 
at two moments of time wholly of the same parts 
and the same order of parts, since the efflux and influx 
of atoms is continuous, and therefore not even from 
the primary integrating parts will you be able to name 
a thing as the same twice." 2 

Number itself is not an absolute, but a relative 
determination : it does not touch the nature of the 
thing itself. Nature has no difference of number, as 
we have, of odd and even, tens and hundreds ; nor 
do the gods, spirits, or other rational beings define the 
numbers and measures of objects by the same series of 
terms. Both numbers and the methods of numbering are 
as diverse as are the fingers, heads, and mental equip 
ment of the numberers. That which fits in with the 
numbers of nature will therefore never fit in with our 
numbers. Thus ten horses and ten men, although 
determined arithmetically by one and the same number, 
are in nature, or physically, wholly unequal to one 
another. 3 

The atoms. In order that men s minds may be better disposed 
for the reception of truth, it is necessary first to 
demolish the foundations of error ; 4 Bruno accordingly 
sets himself to disprove the infinite divisibility of the 
continuum. 5 It was the common belief that there 
were no limits set to the dividing power of either 
nature or art, so that, however small a part might be 
arrived at, it was possible to divide it into yet smaller 
parts, on the analogy of the division of a fraction into 
tens of thousands of parts. Bruno denied this analogy 

1 Of. Lot. i. 3. p. 207. 5 (cf. p. 302, bk. v. ch. 2). 2 P. 208. 9. 3 P. 207. 
4 De Mir., bk. i. ch. 5. 6 Arist. Phys. Z. i. 231, a 23. 


to be justifiable, as in the latter case we are concerned 
not with division but with multiplication or addition, 
not with a continuum, but with discrete quantities, and 
it was part of his general theory that the addition of 
discretes might be carried on ad infinitum ; the inverse 
process he denied. He thus held opinions directly 
contrary to those of Aristotle, with whom the mass { 
of the universe was finite, limited by its enclosing \ 
sphere, the parts of the universe unlimited. Aristotle had 
an upper but not a lower limit ; Bruno a lower but not 
an upper. So time and space, which Aristotle had Time and 
treated as finite in duration or extent, but as infinitely 3I 
divisible, like the universe itself, are regarded by Bruno 
as unlimited in their dimensions, but as consisting of 
discrete minimal parts. " In every point of duration 
is beginning without end, and end without beginning" ; 
it is the centre of two infinities. Therefore the whole 
of duration is one infinite instant, both beginning and 
end, as immeasurable space is an infinite minimum or 
centre. " The beginning and source of all errors, both 
in physics and in mathematics, is the resolution of the 
continuous in infinitum. To us it is clear that the 
resolution both of nature and of true art, which does 
not advance beyond nature, descends from a finite 
magnitude and number to the atom, but that there is 


no limit to the extension of things either in nature or 
in thought, except in regard to the form of particular 
species. Everywhere and always we find the minimum, 
the maximum nowhere and never. The maximum and 
minimum, however, may in one sense coincide, so that 
we know the maximum to be everywhere, since from 
what has been said it is evident that the maxi 
mum consists in the minimum and the minimum 
in the maximum, as in the many is the one, in the 


one the many. Yet reason and nature may more 
readily separate the minimum from the maximum than 
the maximum from the minimum. Therefore the 
immeasurable universe is nothing but centre every 
where ; eternity nothing but a moment always ; im 
measurable body an atom ; immeasurable plane a 
point ; immeasurable space the receptacle of a point 
or atom." l 

The chief source of error on the part of the Peri 
patetics was their failure to distinguish between the 
minimum as a part, and the minimum a terminus or limit. 
Hence their idea that no combination of physical minima 
would give a magnitude, since two or more would 
touch one another with their whole surface, i.e. would 
coincide : otherwise the minimum would have parts, 
a part of each touching the other, and a part not 
touching. On their theory it would follow that magni 
tudes do not consist of parts, or at least not of 
elementary parts. This is inconsistent with nature, for 
existing magnitudes must have been built up out of 
nature s elements, and with art, for art can measure 
only on the assumption of first parts. It is true that 
what is posited as first part in one operation may be 
the last result in another, for the minimum, as we have 
seen, is a relative conception, but some first part is 
always assumed in any operation. And as the operation 
of art is not infinite, so neither is there infinite 
subordination of parts. 2 When two minima touch one 
another, they do not do so with their whole body, or 
any part of it, but one with its terminus or limit may 
touch several others ; no body touches another with 
the whole of itself or a part, but with either the whole 
or the part of its limiting surface. The terminus of a 

J De Mm. p. 153. 22 ff. 2 P. 158. 


thing is therefore no part of it, and by implication not 
a minimal part. Hence there are two kinds of minima 
concerned that of the touching body, or part, and the 
minimum of that by which the contact is effected, the 
terminus. 1 The atom, which is the minimal sphere, 
touches in the absolutely minimal point, the smallest 
terminus. Other spheres do not touch in a point 
simply, but in more than one, or in a plane circle. 2 
By adding limit to limit we never obtain a magni 
tude ; the terminus is no part, and therefore if in 
contact it would touch with its whole self, so that 
magnitude is not made up of termini, whether points, 
atoms, lines, or surfaces which are termini ; and this 
was the false ground on which the Aristotelians denied 
the possibility of the atom. It remained to ask if the 
termini were infinite, since the atoms were not ; but it 
was clear that their number was determined by that of 
the atoms. For two limits do not touch one another : 
" They do not cohere or make a quantum, but through 
them others in contact with one another make a con- 
tiguum or continuum." It may be added that if the 
parts of a divisible body were infinite in number, the 
parts of the whole would be equalled by the parts of the 
half, for in the infinite there can be no greater and 


less. In the infinite, as we have seen above, there 
is no difference between palms, digits, miles, between 
units and thousands, nor in the infinite time that has 
elapsed are there more months than years, more years 
than centuries. If any one set of these were less than 
the others it would be finite, and if one finite number 
may be applied to the whole, then the whole is finite. 4 
The force of the Achilles dilemma was derived from the 
false idea that the minimum of one kind had some 

1 De Min. p. 173. 9 ; cf. 173. 7, 180. 2 P. 160. 3 P. 161. 4 P. 162. 


relation to that of another kind, e.g. that of time to 
that of motion, that of impulsive force to that of the 
motion produced. A thing of one kind does not 
define or measure a thing of another, and the duration 
of one does not compare in the same sense with the 
duration of another. Parts of different things are 
only equivocally called parts, and minima are minima 
only according to their proper (and diverse) definitions ; 
therefore one is not measured by another, except in 
a rough way, for practical purposes. 1 

The As the atoms come into contact with one another, 

Atom* 1 n t i n all points of their surface, but in a definite 
sphencai. num ber, it follows that there is a_space between them, 
in the interstices ; it was this thought which led Democ- 
ritus to posit a vacuum. 2 The figure of the corporeal 
minimum must be spherical, for any mass which has 
projections can always be thought of as smaller, when 
these projections have been removed ; and nature 
itself suggests this, by the gradual rounding off of 
substances through time, and the apparent roundness 
and smoothness of rough and jagged bodies when the 
observer is at a distance. 3 Diversity of forms of 
composite bodies results easily from spherical atoms, 
through differences in situation and order, differing 
amounts of vacuum and solid ; but a simple vacuum 
with solid bodies is not sufficient, there must be a 
certain matter through which the latter cohere together. 4 
Although all other determinations may be abstracted 
from, figure at least must be predicated of the atoms ; 
quantity cannot be asserted of that which is thought to 
be unfieured. These determinations of the minimum, 


though not given to sense, may nevertheless be made 

1 De Mm. i. ch. 8. 2 Ch. ii. p. 176. 

3 Ch. 12. 4 Ch. 2. p. 140. 


object of thought, by analogy or inference from the 
combinations of sensible minima in larger composites, 
the same forms of aggregation being repeated in the 
higher which occur in the lower forms. 1 


From the consideration of mathematical figures as 
consisting of minima, Bruno attempted both to remodel 
and to simplify the existing mathematical theory, and, 
unfortunately fell foul of the new analytical mathematics, 
the theory of rationals and of approximations, which at 
that time was receiving marked extensions, and which 
has since justified itself so completely by results. It is 
true he did not entirely reject it, but he regarded it as 
merely an artifice for rough practical measurements. 
The true measure is always the minimum, inferred by 
analogy from the combinations of greater parts, which 
are perceived by sense. Thus the minimal circle, after 
the atom itself, consists of seven minima, the minimal 
triangle of three, and the minimal square of four, and 
as each figure increases not by the addition of one 
atom merely, but by a number determined by the 
original number of atoms in the figure, it follows that 
no one figure is ever equal to another. Thus the 
second triangle is of six minima, the second square of 
nine, the second circle of nineteen. The " squaring of 
the circle" is therefore impossible,- although it may 
be approximately reached through the ultimate coin 
cidence of arc and chord, by which the circle becomes 
equal to a polygon with an infinite number of sides. 3 
This, however, is only an approximation of sense, 
which fails to observe the infinitesimal differences that 
are caused by the existence of a few atoms, more or less, 
in a figure. They are visible to the eye of reason, 
which comprehends that no two figures in nature are 

1 De Min. i. ch. 14. p. 184. 23. * ii. ch. 8. p. 214. 3 iii. ch. 12. p. 267. 



ever exactly equal. In exact geometry the number of 
one species of figure has nothing in common with that 
of another. It is clear, however, that even on his own 
ground Bruno was in error in this regard ; for example, 
the seventh triangle and the fifth square are each com 
posed of thirty-six minima. 1 But it is hardly necessary 
to take seriously his teaching in this respect. He was 
wholly governed by the belief in the infinite diversity 
of nature, and the absolute incommensurability of any 
member of one species of beings with one of a different 
species. " Since a definite minimum exists, it is not 
possible either in reality or in thought for a square to 
be equalled by a circle, nor even a square by a pentagon, 
a triangle by a square, nor in fine any species of figure 
by a figure of another species ; for difference in the 
number of sides implies also difference in the order 
and number of parts. As figures in this respect are as 
numbers, and one species of number cannot be equalled 
by another either formally or fundamentally (i.e. 
either in idea or in fact), we can never make an 
equilateral figure of any kind equal to one of another 
by first parts." Where this transformation is ap 
parently carried out, as where a cube of wax is moulded 
to another figure, the result is due to the varying 
degrees of density in the different parts of the material ; 
no solid parts are added or subtracted, but the dis 
position and extent or the pores or vacua are altered. 
But no argument can be drawn from this rough method, 
for the principles of practice are different from those of 
science. 3 

The latter principles are then applied boldly to 
geometrical science : thus it is shown that an angle, 

1 Lasswitz, p. 26, note, where it is said the eighth triangle and the sixth circle are 
equal- 2 Of. Lat. i. 3. p. 217. 9. 3 Pp. 219, 221. 


although it may be multiplied indefinitely, can be 
divided only into two parts ; all its lines, it is understood, 
consisting of fila or rows of atoms ; * that the circle 
has not an infinite number of radii, for from the 
circumference to the centre only six such lines can be 
drawn ; L> that not every line can be divided into two 
equal parts, for the physical line or filum may, naturally, 
consist of an odd number of atoms ; 3 in any case 
geometrical bisection can at best be a near approximation, 
though the two halves be apparently equal, they may 
really differ by many atoms. On this basis, in the 
fourth and fifth books of the De Minimo, Bruno offers 
a simplification of the geometry of Euclid. As nature 
itself is the highest unification of the manifold, and the 
monad is the unity and essence of all number, so we 
are taught to pass " from the infinite forms and images 
of art to the definite forms of nature, which the mind 
in harmony with nature grasps in a few forms, while 
the first mind has at once the potentiality and the 
reality of all particular things in the (simple) monad." 4 
In accordance with the method of simplification sug 
gested by this doctrine, Bruno sets himself to show 
that the greater part of Euclid may be intuitively 
presented in three complicated figures, named respec 
tively the Atrium Appollinis, Atrium Palladis, and 
Atrium Veneris. He hoped that by this means, " if 
not always, for the most part at any rate, without 
further explanation, the demonstration and the very 
evidence of the thing might be presented to the senses 
of all, without numbers, not after the partial method 
of others, who in considering a statue take now the 
foot, now the eyes, now the forehead, now other parts 

1 Of. Lot. i. 3. p. 243 (bk. iii. ch. 3). - P. 245 (bk. iii. ch. 4.), cf. p. 323 

(bk. v. c. 9), 324 (c. 10). 3 P. 306 (bk. v. ch. 5.). 4 P. 270. 14. 


separately, but explaining all in each and each in all." * 
It is no part of the purpose of this book to go at 
length into the mathematics of Bruno, which un 
fortunately have not yet met with a competent exposition. 
Apart from the difficulty of the matter itself, the 
poetical form and setting of his theorems is an additional 
stumbling-block in the way of understanding. Bruno 
was put to many shifts in order to give a poetical 
colouring to the most prosaic of subjects. 

We have gone thus fully into the detail of Bruno s 
atomic theory, more so perhaps than its intrinsic value 
seems to demand, because this aspect of his doctrine is 
the most important philosophically, and has exercised 
the greatest influence upon the course of speculation. 
It also provides most clearly an exemplification of the 
return which was made, or thought to be made, by the 
Renaissance to the older pre-Aristotelian philosophy and 
science. The rejection by Aristotle and his scholastic 
followers of the atomic theory of Leucippus and 
Democritus had been based upon the identification of 
space and body. The possibility of a vacuum in the 
corporeal world was denied, on the ground that dis 
creteness was inconsistent with the continuity which 
was felt to be a necessary condition of space. Accord 
ingly, the reintroduction of the atom was possible only 
in one of two ways- either by the distinction between 
body and space, or by the application of the atomic 
constitution of body to space itself. The former and 
truer solution was not open to Bruno. His time was 
still too much under the domination of Peripatetic 
thought for him to be able to take the important step 
of critically separating these two notions. The latter 

1 Cf. Art. adv. Math., ii. The figures there are slightly different, and named Figurae 
Mentis, Intellectus, Amo -is. 


way, therefore, was that which he followed. Hence the 
curious attempt to remodel mathematical theory on the 
basis of the atom, which we have described above, and 
the reduction of mathematical certainty to an illusion of 
sense. Figure is to be found only in the combinations 
of atoms ; and owing to the spherical form of the atom, 
the infinite number of them existing in any body which 
is presented to sense, and the space which lies between 
their surfaces, mathematical equality and exactness are 
impossible. Neither straight line, therefore, nor perfect 
circle are to be found in reality. Mathematics, which 
should be based upon, or which presupposes, continuity, 
is confounded with physics, which presupposes the 
analysis of body into discrete, impenetrable atoms. 
Physical atomism finds its justification in the experienced 
fact_of resistance, which is" the primary quality of body 
as perceived by our senses. In mathematical space, on 
the other hand, we abstract from all qualities except 
that of dimension only. Resistance would be in 
explicable were it possible to proceed ad infinitum in 
dividing matter ; it implies an ultimate irreducible and 
indestructible unit, whether we regard this unit as a 
centre of force or as an inert substance merely. 

The same influence of Aristotelian thought led 
Bruno to posit a subtle matter, the Ether, as filling up 
the interstices between the atoms. Space and body 
having been identified, it was seen that a vacuum was 
inconsistent with the nature of things. The Aristotelian 
plenum was reintroduced in this form, that there might 
1 be some reality where the discrete atoms were not. The 
bolder step of asserting the fact, and indeed, the neces 
sity of a vacuum as a presupposition of knowledge of the 
material world, was not taken until there appeared the 
work of Gassendi, by whom the final blow was given to 


the old conception of body and space, and through whom 
the critical separation of the one from the other was first 
rendered possible. It is curious that Bruno did not think 
of applying to the continuous ether any geometrical 
measure ; had he done so, he would have understood 
the value of the new theory of infinitesimals and 
irrationals which he opposed so strongly. Again, had 
he carried out more fully the distinction which he 
draws between the atom and the terminus or limit, the 
same result would have followed. Pure geometry is 
the geometry of the limit ; for the limit is not only 
between atom and atom, or body and body, but also 
between atom and vacuum or ether. In this sense it is 
both continuous and figured, the compatibility of which 
qualities Bruno had denied ; the continuous is measured, 
not by making it discrete, but by making the number, 
the measure, fluid or continuous. 

Lasswitz has shown that there are in Bruno s theory 
three distinct aspects, not, however, clearly separated one 
from another, ot the atomic hypothesis : they may be 
named severally the metaphysical, the physical, and the 
Men- critical aspects. From the metaphysical point of view 
atom ism. the atom is the ultimately simple, indeterminate 
substance of things ; its conception results from the 
effort to find the real substance which is outside of, 
and unaffected by, the change and decay apparent on 
the surface of things, but felt to be unreal. Simplicity, 
unity, substance, is that which is sought, an abiding 
somewhat underlying the flux of the universe, which is 
regarded as an illusory appearance to sense. From this 
aspect it is that the identity of minimum and maximum, 
of the least with the greatest, is to be explained. 
Number, plurality, and diversity no longer apply to the 
absolutely simple : all are determinations of human and 


finite origin which are here no longer valid. In the 
simple all contraries coincide, for the very reason that 
it has no determinations in itself; even the highest 
qualities which men would attribute to God, for 
example, justice and goodness, are improperly 
predicated of him, for as in him the greatest and the 
least coincide, so do goodness and evil and all other 
contrary qualities. In this respect Bruno was following 
closely in the footsteps of Nicolaus of Cusa. 

From the second point of view, that of physical Physical 

. Atomism. 

atomism, the atom is nothing more than a hypothesis 
to explain the constitution and qualities of nature as we 
experience it. We seek to account for the differences 
in material bodies and in their ways of acting upon one 
another by the interaction of ultimate elements of which 
the nature and laws may be variously interpreted. Of 
this point of view also there are traces in Bruno, 
although for it he had least regard. He does not 
attempt, for example, to apply the theory of the atoms 
to explain the four elements which had come down from 
Aristotle. He leaves them practically intact, and we 
have seen that they form a standing difficulty in the 
way of a consistent theory. The earth alone is atomic 
in its nature ; water, air, and fire seem alike fluid and 
continuous in quality, but wherein their difference from 
one another consists he was unable, or did not care, to 
make clear. Perhaps, if we take his view at its best, 
we should say that all three represent strata, varying in 
density, of the one fluid and all-pervading ether. Had 
he worked out this conception, which was evidently 
present, on occasions, to his mind, he would have given 
an example of what is meant by physical atomism. But 
this was left for another century to fulfil. From the 

. . , . r .... . . . Critical 

third or critical point of view, which inquires into the Atomism. 


presuppositions or the possibility of knowledge, Bruno 
may be regarded as being, to some extent, a forerunner 
of Kant, in the stress he lays upon the relation of the 
minimum to measure or knowledge, and in his doctrine 
of the relativity of the conception of the minimum. 
The minimum, instead of a last of division, becomes a 
first of composition a ground which we must necessarily 
assume in order to account for the experienced fact of 
composition. To know a composite is to measure it, 
and measurement implies the minimum or first part, 
without which quantity in any form cannot be explained. 
As the comparison of numbers with one another, their 
determination as greater or less, is only possible on the 
assumption of a unit, a common measure to which each 
may be referred, so the comparison of bodies with one 
another, as to quantity and quality alike, demands a 
corporeal minimum, to which their differences must be 
reduced. This relation to knowledge carries with it 
the relativity of the minimum according to the subject- 
matter with which the knower is for the time being 


concerned. If all knowledge is of the same type, then 
in each application of it each subdivision of knowledge 
as a whole there is presupposed the corresponding 
minimum. That which is least in one sphere may be 
greatest in another ; that which is element of one science 
may be that which another seeks to analyse into lesser 
constituents. The celestial body, which is a highly 
complex combination of elements, may be the unit of 
astronomical science. The phrase, which is the unit of 
the rhetorician, is analysed by the logician and the 
grammarian into terms and words ; these are analysed 
by another science into syllables and letters ; these by 
the mathematician into lines and points. Thus every 
science has its own (relative) minimum. Only one 



minimum is absolutely so named, God as the monad of 
monads. It is to be noted that the relativity of the 
monad is dependent upon the origin of its conception, 
in the conditions of knowledge ; it is because quantity 
is universal that a minimum is necessary, and it is 
because quantity differs in kind, in each subject of 
knowledge, because it is, in scholastic phrase, equivo 
cally applied in the different cases, that the minima 
differ from one another. The minimal number is no 
measure of the minimal body nor of the geometrical 
figure, and the numbers which are in use among men 
are not those which may be employed by other and 
higher rational beings. Thus, even number itself 
is a relative determination ; ten horses, said Bruno, 
are not really equal to ten men, but only conven 

The ancient atomism upon which Bruno founded 
his theory was, at any rate in its traditional rendering, 
frankly materialistic. It admitted nothing but atoms 
and the void, all things else being dependent upon the 
composition of atoms, which itself, and all that results 
from it, is merely an appearance to sense, without 
corresponding reality in nature. All physical opera 
tions were explained by mechanical arrangement and 
movement of the atoms. The method which was 
pursued thus unscientifically, without consciousness of 
the extent of its validity, modern atomic theory has 
followed scientifically, with full comprehension of its 
bearings, and perhaps without due consideration of its 
limits. Bruno tells us that he had at one time been an 
adherent of Democritus atomic theory, but on reflec 
tion had been unable to rest satisfied with his material 
istic account of the nature of things. In this case also 
he showed himself unable to get rid of the ties which 


bound all the thought of his time even that thought 
which most believed itself to be free. 

Aristotle s distinction of form and matter in nature, 
of pure activity and pure passivity, had still sufficient 
influence to render even in Bruno s time a purely 
mechanical treatment of nature an impossibility. The 
opposing school, the Neo-Platonism which attracted so 
many minds of that period, because of its supposed incon 
sistency with Aristotle s system, was itself an offshoot, to 
some extent, of that system, and was still less scientific in 
its tendency. Mysticism, of which it was partly a cause 
and partly an effect, lent its weight also against any 
mechanical interpretation of nature. Thus even while 
apparently governed by scientific aspiration, Bruno 
gives a teleological scheme of the universe which 
renders any scientific explanation of it impossible. Not 
only, as we have seen, is the ether identified with the 
first substance, spirit, or soul of the universe, but also 
the greater and lesser organic bodies are governed each 
by its individual soul, which is somehow distinguished 
from the universal spirit, and within each of these is an 
infinite number of smaller living bodies. In other 
1 words, the atoms themselves are animated virtually, if 
not actually. This animistic interpretation is in direct 
conflict with the mechanical interpretation which science 
has followed, and which it must continue to follow if 
it is to produce any result. Thus, motion and the 
changes of composition that derive from motion are 
explained not by the mechanical impact of atoms and 
bodies upon one another, but by the action of the 
intrinsic soul in each being, which causes the motion of 
the body, in accordance with its need and desire of self- 
preservation. All motion, even the slightest, is thus 
explained by a final cause. In the whole universe also. 

ii NATURE AINU bFlKll 251 

the constantly occurring changes and transformations 
are due to a similar final cause the need for each thing 
to become explicitly that which it already is implicitly, 
i.e. the whole of reality. It required once more a 
critical separation of the spheres of validity of the 
respective conceptions of nature and spirit, such as 
Kant attempted, before full scope could be given 
to mechanical interpretation on the one side, and 
teleology restricted to the domain of spirit only on 
the other. 



THE distinctively ethical teaching of Bruno is con 
tained in the two dialogues the Spaccio della Eestia 
Trionfante, and the Heroici Furori. The latter de 
scribes the struggles and aspirations of the "heroic " or 
generous human soul in its pursuit of the infinitely 
beautiful and good its efforts towards union with the 
divine source of all things. To this more constructive 
work, in which moral philosphy was to be treated 
according to " the inward light with which the divine 
sun of intelligence had irradiated" the soul of the 
writer, the Spaccio was to form an introduction. " It 
seemed well to begin with a kind of prelude, after the 
manner of musicians ; to draw some dim and confused 
lines, as painters do ; to lay deep bases and dark 
foundations, as do the great builders ; and this end 
seemed best achieved by putting down in number and 
in order all the primary forms of morality which are 
the capital virtues and vices." ] The Spaccio, with its 
shorter appendage, the Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo, 
contained a bitter attack upon the prevalent forms of 
Christian religion ; it especially attacked the doctrine of 
the all-sufficiency of faith, which, interpreted as it then 
was, might stand as the formula of mediaeval cor- 

1 Lag. 407. 25. 


ruption and stagnation ; and it was upon this dialogue, 
almost solely, that the reputation Bruno long enjoyed 
that of being an atheist was based. It is therefore 
well to remember the introductory nature of the work. 
Had not "atheism" been frequently synonymous with 
" unorthodoxy," the Heroic Enthusiasms would have 
shown on how shallow a foundation the charge rested, 
for that dialogue breathes the purest religious emotion 
and aspiration. Bruno had, however, a premonition of 
the fate that was to befall his memory. He protested, 
perhaps with a touch of sarcasm, that nothing in his 
work was said " assertively" that he had no wish either 
directly or indirectly to strike at the truth, to send a 
shaft against anything that was honourable, useful, 
natural, and, consequently, divine. 1 His own religion 
was that which had its beginning, its growth, and its 
continuance in " the raising of the dead, making whole 
the sick, and giving of one s goods " ; and not that in 
the spirit of which the goods of others were seized, the 
whole maimed, and the living put to death. 2 The con 
clusions of the Spaccio were not therefore to be regarded 
as presenting a finished system, but as mere suggestions, 
to be tested " when the music should be given in 
concert, the picture finished, the roof put on the 
building." On the other hand, it is clear also that in 
the Spaccio Bruno intended to present a popular moral 
philosophy, or to point out the degree of virtue which 
might be attained without the influence of the divine 


afflatus described in the Enthusiasms. As in the philo 
sophy of Aristotle before Bruno, and in that of Spinoza 
after him, the perfection of this customary morality 
formed at the same time the ante-chamber through which 
alone entrance was to be gained into the inner chamber of 

1 Lag. p. 407. 7. - P. 406. 29. 


divine love. This is the real meaning that underlies 
the bizarre and at times extravagant humour of the 
dialogue : it points out the purification to which the 
human soul must submit before it can become a fitting 
vessel for the divine enthusiasm. 

Before a purer morality can be taught to any avail, 
there must exist a desire for it in the minds of those to 
whom it shall be revealed. In the way of Bruno s 
proposed reformation there stood the attitude of the 
Church and of the religious orders towards " faith " 
and towards "works" respectively. Faith meant 
merely professed belief in, or acceptance of, their 

doctrines, and conformity with their practices blind 

acceptance and unreasoning conformity in contrast 
with which an earthly life that was simply moral was 
held to be of no value towards the blessed life hereafter. 
Under the influence of this spirit the worst vices were 
practised, condoned, and pardoned, even in Bishops and 
Cardinals, not to speak of the ordinary priests and 
monks. It is only as embodying this conception that 
Bruno attacked the Church. Thus Jupiter, in the 
Spaccio, complains that his powers are decaying : " I 
have not vigour enough to pit myself against certain 
half-men, and I must, to my great chagrin, leave the 
world to run its course as chance and fortune direct. 
I am like the old lion of ^sop the ass kicked it with 
impunity, the ape played tricks upon it, the pig came 
and rubbed its dusty paunch upon it, as if it were some 
lifeless log. My noble oracles, fanes, and altars are 
thrown down, and most unworthily desecrated ; while 
altars and statues are raised there to some whom I am 
ashamed to name, for they are worse than our satyrs, 
fauns, and other half-beasts, viler than the crocodiles of 
Egypt ; for these at least showed some mark of 


divinity when magically guided, but those are quite the 
scum of the earth." Bruno is ironically contrasting 
the Christian ideal, as he interprets it, with that of the 
Greeks and Egyptians. The former is that of a being 
only half-human, half-free ; on one side of his nature 
he is reduced to the level of the beast, the ass, the 
bearer of burdens, unquestioning, faithful. Again, one 
of the constellations, the Corona Borealis, is to be left 
in the heavens, escaping the general fate, 2 until the 
time when it shall be given in reward to " the invincible 
arm that shall bring peace, the long-desired, to a 
miserable, long-suffering Europe, cutting down the 
many heads of that worse than Lernean monster that is 
scattering its fateful poison of manifold heresy, and 
sending it through every portion of her veins." 3 To 
this decision of Jupiter, Momus, the critic and wit of 
the assembly, adds that it would be enough " if a 
certain sect of pedants could be rooted out, who, doing 
no good themselves, as the divine and natural law bade, 
yet thought themselves, and desired to be thought 
by others, pious and pleasing to the gods ; they 
said that to do good was good, to do evil, evil ; but 
that men gained grace and favour with the gods, not 

O O O * 

through the good that they did, but through hoping 
and believing in accordance with their catechism. As 
if the gods, said Mercury, were anxious about nothing 
but their own vainglory, cared nothing for the injury 
caused to human society. And they defame us, 
Momus continued, by calling this an institution of 
heaven, decrying effects or fruits ; while all the time 
they are doing no work themselves, but living on the 

1 Lfig. 427. 19. 

2 The constellations as typifying vices were to be expelled from the heavens and 
replaced b.y the personified virtues. 

" Lag. P . 445. 


works of others, who instituted temples, chapels, 
hospices, hospitals, colleges, universities, for quite other 
men than they. These others, even if they are not 
perfect, will not, like their usurpers, be perverse and 
pernicious to the world ; they will be useful to the 
state, skilled in speculative science, studious of morality, 
fanning zeal and enthusiasm for doing good to one 
another, and maintaining the common weal for which 
all laws are ordained. The usurpers are worse than 
grubs, caterpillars, or destroying locusts, and should be 
exterminated accordingly." How is it possible, we 
read elsewhere, that men should regard that as the 
highest type of religion which holds behaviour, the 
doing of good deeds, to be unimportant, or even to be 
vice and error ; or pretends that the gods do not care 
for good deeds that through such, however great they 
are, men are not justified ? ~ This creed was a disease 
that ran through a man s nature and poisoned it for 
ever. " When one turned from any other profes 
sion or faith to this, his liberality was exchanged for 
avarice, mildness for insolence, humility for pride ; 
formerly open handed with his own goods, he now 
became a robber and usurper of those of others ; a 
good man became a hypocrite ; a sincere one, cunningly 
evil ; a simple one, malicious ; he who was once 
conscious of his own defects became the most arrogant 
of men ; he who was ready to do any good action, to 
learn any new knowledge, became prone to every kind 
of ignorance and ribaldry ; he who had merely the 
makings of a rogue became the worst possible of men." 3 
Miracle-working was the universal means by which the 
supremacy of faith was maintained. Momus therefore 

1 Lag. p. 446. i ff., cf. 447. Quista fetlda Sporcaria del mondo" and 467. 
2 P. 462. 30. 3 P. 468. 25. 


proposed to send Orion upon the earth. " He can do 
miracles can walk upon the waves of the sea without 
sinking or wetting his feet ; let us send him among 
men to make them believe everything we would have 
them believe that black is white, that the human 
intellect is blind where it thinks itself to see best ; that 
what to reason appears excellent, good, best, is vile, 
wicked, evil in the extreme ; that nature is a strumpet, the 
law of nature a ribaldry ; that nature and divinity cannot 
work together for one and the same good end ; that the 
justice of the one is not subordinate to that of the other, 
but that they are as contrary as darkness and light." l 

The attitude of mind which formed the ideal of 
the Church for its members Bruno typified frequently 
enough, as we have seen, by the Ass, after Cusanus 
Docta Ignorantia and Agrippa s praise of Asinity in his 
work on The Vanity of all Sciences. But they were in 
earnest : Bruno bitterly ironical. In his Cabala Asinity 
is given the two places left vacant in the heavens by 
the council of the gods in the Spaccio : the place of 
Ursa Major is taken by Asinity in the abstract, that of 
Eridanus by Asinity in the concrete. The whole work 
is in praise of " the pure goodness, royal sincerity, 
magnificent majesty of ignorance, learned foolishness, 
divine Asinity." Asinity is in the sphere of practice 
as submission to authority in that of speculation, or 
pedantry in that of teaching. Against all of these 
Bruno casts the shafts of his irony, now broad and 
heavy, now fine, light and piercing. 3 

1 Lag. p. 543. 35 ft"., cf. 544. 20, 546. 16, and esp. 554. 13 ff. (Chiron the Centaur), 
for other references to the Church and its beliefs. Bruno could not have written the 
last passage while retaining any shred of genuine belief in the divinity of Christ. 
v. also 534. 32. 

2 Cabala, p. 565. 

3 Cf. the poem in the dtbala, p. 564. 25, Sant dsinita, and Cena, Lag. 147. 21 
(the Ark of Noah), etc. 



The list of virtues which Bruno gives as adorning 
the soul of the renovated man does not present any 
novelty, except perhaps in the order assigned to the 
different virtues. 1 Along with each mythical figure of 
the constellations he names the various vices that are 
expelled, and into the place of which the virtues come. 
The Bear, the highest constellation in the heavens, is 
replaced by Truth, the Dragon by Prudence, Cepheus 
by Sophia, or Wisdom. The following table shows 
some of the virtues which occupy the different posts 
vacated by the mythical beings of the heavens, and 
their contrary vices. 

1 The lists given in the argument are not quite the same as those in the body of 
the work, and both differ to some extent from the list of vices which is put in the 
mouth of Jupiter at the beginning, p. 439. 








I . Ursa 


Deformity, Falsity, De 

fect, Impossibility, Con 

tingency, Hypocrisy, 

Imposture, Felony. 

z. Ursa Major 

The place is left 

vacant, to be 

fil 1 ed in the 

satire of the 

Cabala by 

" A sin it y in the 


3. Draco 


Cunning, Craftiness, 

Malice, Stupidity, In 

ertia, Imprudence. 

(Envy). 1 

4. Cephcus . 


Sophistry, Ignorance (of 

evil disposition), foolish 

Faith (Hardness). 

5. Bootes 


Prevarication, Crime, 


Excess, Exorbitance, 


6. Corona Borealis 



7. Hercules . 


Ferocity, Fury, Cruelty. 

Slackness, Debility, 

Pusillanimity (Vio 


8. Lyra 

Mnemosyne, and 

Ignorance, Inertia. Besti 

the Ni n e 

ality (Conspiracy). 

Muses, her 

daughters, the 

branches of 


9. Cygnus . 


Self-love, Uncleanness, 

Filthiness, Immodesty, 


IO. Cassiopeia 


Boastfulness on the one 

side, Dissimulation on 

the other (Vanity). 

1 1 . Perseus . 

Diligence or 

Torpor, Idleness, Inertia, 


Foolish Occupation, 

Perturbation, Vain soli 


I 2 . Triptolemus 

Humanity or 

Misanthropy, Envy, 



1 From Lag. p. 439. 


There follow as " virtues " : Sagacity, judicious 
election or choice, affability, magnanimity (Aquila] ; 
divine enthusiasm or rapture (Pegasus] ; hopefulness, 
faith and sincerity (the Triangle] ; virtuous emulation, 
tolerance, sociability (and friendship the Pleiades] ; 
love (peace and friendship Gemini] ; conversion or 
emendation, heroic generosity (or magnanimity, again 
Leo] ; continence, equity (and justice Libra] ; 
sincerity (observance of promises Scorpio]; contempla 
tion, the love of solitude (freedom of mind), temperance 
(Aquarius] ; just reserve and taciturnity, tranquillity 
of mind, industry, prudent fear, vigilance for the state, 
kindliness, liberality, judicious sagacity (Hydra]; divine 
magic (and soothsaying), abstinence (the Cup /), the 
divine parable (the sacred mystery, Chiron] ; sincere 
piety and wise religion (the Altar] ; honour, glory, and, 
finally, health, security and repose, as the due reward 
of the virtues, and remuneration for zealous work and 
endurance. 1 

It will be seen that the list is redundant, and it is 
more so in the text, where several virtues are usually 
given under each head. Several of the names do not 
denote virtues in the ordinary sense (e.g. knowledge of 
magic, ability to interpret the divine parables) : they 
are merely qualities which it is desirable for the good 
man to have. Others refer to qualities which could not 
be acquired by any one destitute of them (e.g. hope, 
love, piety), while others represent rather the outcome 
of the virtuous life than any one of its constituent 
elements, e.g. Knowledge, Divine Enthusiasm, Con 
templation, Honour. There remain the familiar virtues 

1 Cf. also p. 488. Another list of virtues is in the eulogium on Julius in the 
Oratio Cor.solatoria (Op. La!, i. 1.4? ft".). There also the constellations typify dif 
ferent virtues. 



of Greek philosophy : Courage ; prudence and sagacity; 
temperance (continence and abstinence) ; wisdom (or 
the love of truth) ; justice, including submission to 
law, active justice or judgment, and equity ; sincerity, 
with truthfulness, simplicity, faith, the observance of 
promises ; sociability and friendliness, with humanity, 
affability, tolerance, kindliness ; liberality ; magnanimity 
and heroic generosity ; tranquillity or gentleness. More 
modern are the virtues of solicitude, diligence or 
industry, of emulation, and of love of solitude, or 
" Monachism." There is accordingly nothing of value 
to be derived for systematic ethics from this or from 
any other work of Bruno. It is in the digressions from 
the main argument that his philosophy of practical life 
is revealed. 1 

The two things which seemed to Bruno for his time Peace and 
the most desirable were peace and freedom freedom 
alike of thought and of speech. The characteristics of 
the Church which he consistently condemned were on 
the one hand its violence, the dissension and strife it 
stirred up, on the other its tyranny over mind and 
tongue. Hence the aim of the moral life, from the 
lower plane on which we stand in the Spaccio, is to 
secure the prosperity of the state, the peaceful common 
life of its members, and the avoidance of all interference 
with the individual, except where the positive end, 
security, appears endangered. Of the nine muses, the 
daughters of Mnemosyne, 2 Ethic a is at once the last 
born and the most worthy. Her task is to institute 
religions, to establish ceremonies, to posit laws, to 

1 In the De Lamp. Comb, are two lists of virtues and vices, after Lully ; with 
each virtue are given the two vicious extremes, in Aristotelian fashion. (Op. Lat. 
ii. 2. 257). 

2 Lag. 489. 1 8 (Sub Lyra). They are Slrithmetica, Geometria, Musica, Lcgica, Pcesia, 
Astrologia, Physica, Metafhysica, Ethica. 


execute judgments, with prudence, sagacity, readiness, 
and generous philanthropy ; to approve, confirm, pre 
serve, defend whatever is well instituted, established, 
posited, executed ; adapting, as far as may be, both 
passions and actions to the worship of the gods, and 

Liw. the common life of men. The function of Law, the 
daughter of wisdom, is to prevent the powerful from 
making undue use of their pre-eminence and strength, 
and in other respects vigorously to protect the common 
life and civil intercourse of men. 1 " The powerful are 
to be sustained by the weak, the feeble are not to be 
oppressed by the strong, tyrants are to be deposed, just 
governors and kings ordained and confirmed, republics 
fostered ; violence shall not tread reason under foot, 
ignorance not despise knowledge, the poor shall be 
aided by the rich, virtues and studies necessary or 
useful to the community be promoted, advanced, main 
tained. No one is to be put into a place of power 
that is not superior in merits, by force of virtue and 
talent, either in himself, which is rare and almost im 
possible, or through communication with and counsel of 
others, which is due, ordinary and necessary. The two 
hands by which any law is strong to bind are justice 
and possibility, one moderated by the other, for 
although many things are possible that are not just, 
nothing is just that is not possible. Whether it come 
from heaven or from the earth, no institution or law 
ought to be approved or accepted which does not tend 
to the highest end, viz. the direction of our minds and 
reform of our natures so that they produce fruits 
necessary or useful for human intercourse." Judg- 

judgment. ment shall make a scale of virtues and of crimes, the 
greatest in either class being that which affects the 

1 Lag. p. 461. II ft". 2 Pp. 461, 462. 


Republic as a whole ; next that which affects other 
individuals than the agent ; a crime committed between 
two who are in accord is hardly a crime, while there is 
no crime if the fault remains in the individual does not 
proceed to bad example or to bad deed. Repentance is 
to be approved by it, but not set upon the same level 
as innocence ; l belief and opinion^ but not placed so high 
as deeds and work ; confession and admission of fault, 
but not as correction and abstention. It shall not place 
one who to no purpose mortifies the flesh on a level 
with one who bridles his spirit, nor compare one who is 
a useless solitary with another who is in profitable 
intercourse 2 with his fellows, nor applaud so highly 
one who, perhaps unnecessarily, subdues his desires, as 
another, who refrains from evil-speaking and from 
evil-doing ; not make so great a triumph over one who 
has healed a base, useless cripple, worth little if any 
more when whole than maimed, as over another who 
has liberated his fatherland, or reformed a mind 
diseased. 3 The Roman people was the type of the best- 
governed state, " more bridled and restrained from the 


vices of incivility and barbarity, more refined and 
willing for generous undertakings than any other ; and 
as their law and religion were, so were their customs 
and deeds, so their honour and happiness." How 
different from the pedants of the Church, who flourish 
throughout Europe : while saluting with peace they 
bring wherever they enter in the sword of division, and 
the fire of dispersion ; taking son from father, neigh 
bour from neighbour, citizen from fatherland, and 
causing other divorces more abhorrent and contrary to 
all nature and law ; calling themselves ministers of one 

1 In contrast with St. Luke 15. 7. a Reading conversation for conservation. 

3 Lag. pp. 464, 465. 


who raises the dead and heals the sick, they more than 
all others on the earth are maimers of the sound, and 
slayers of the living, not so much with fire and sword, 
as with the tongue of malice. 1 

The scales. Under the Scales, Bruno describes some of the 
reforms he believes necessary : in courts, offices and 
honours are for the future to go by merit ; "in 
republics, the just are to preside, the wealthy to con 
tribute, the learned to teach, the prudent to guide, the 
brave to fight, those that have judgment to counsel, those 
that have authority to command ; in states, the scales 
represent the keeping of contracts of peace, confedera 
tions, leagues, the careful weighing of action before 
hand ; in individuals the weighing of what each wishes 
with what he knows, of what he knows with what he 
can, of what he wishes, knows, and can with what he 
ought ; of what he wishes, knows, can, and ought, 
with what he is, does, has, and expects." 2 

Underlying this cult of humanity one cannot but 
feel the robust naturalism of the Renaissance, which in 
Bruno s mind is apart altogether from the mystical 
exclusive intellectualism of his more characteristic 
philosophy. It is with man as a natural being, living 
out his earthly life, and gathering such fruits as may be 
of kindliness and love from his fellow-creatures, that 
the practical philosophy is concerned. The religion 
attacked was one that struck at the root of this human 
love, and made of earth a purgatory for the sake of the 
uncertain life to come. Hence the emphasis laid on 

sincerity, sincerity, faithfulness, or truthfulness, as high among the 
virtues. " Without it every contract is uncertain and 
doubtful, all intercourse is dissolved, all social life at 
an end." Bruno is as rigid as Kant in regard to the 

1 Lag. pp. 465, 466. 2 P. 527. 

ii THE JEWS 265 

keeping of faith ; even promises made to the wicked 
may not be broken. It was " a law of some Jew or 
Saracen, brutal and barbarian, not of civilised and heroic 
Greek or Roman, that sometimes, and with certain 
kinds of people, faith might be pledged for individual 
gain, and for an opportunity of deception, making it 
the servant of tyranny and treachery." 

The antipathy of Bruno towards the Jews is to be 
explained by the same principle of social life and pro 
gress ; it is not, as Lagarde supposes, 2 an offspring of 
his hatred towards the Church, regarded as a direct 
descendant of Judaism. So far as it is not an expres 
sion of an unreasoning anti-Semitic wave of feeling, 
such as occasionally overwhelms some of the European 
peoples, it may have had three grounds : the reputed 
avarice of the Jew : 3 his exclusiveness, unsociability ; 
| " a race always base, servile, mercenary, solitary, in- 
j communicative, shunning intercourse with the Gentiles, 
I whom they brutally despise, and by whom in their 
I turn, and with good reason, they are contemned " : 4 
or his religion, which appeared to Bruno a corruption . 
of the nobler Egyptian religion. Thus in Spaccio 5 the 
punishment of the children for the sins of the fathers is 
said to be found only among Barbarians, and first among 
the Jews, " a race so pestilent, leprous, and generally 
pernicious that it should be effaced from the earth." 6 

Temperance, as a virtue, is rather the peace of mind Temper- 
that goes with civilisation urbanity than the more 
physical virtue : its opposites are intemperance, excess, 
asperity, savagery, barbarity. " It is through intemper- 

1 Pp. 520, 521. - Op. cit. p. 794. 

3 Compare the picture of Avarice in Sfaccio, pp. 477, 478, with Shakespeare s 
Shylock. 4 Cabala, p. 576. 31. 6 P. 500. 40. 

6 Cf. p. 535. 4, and 541. 35, ^Tiscremento de / Eg:tto" which may not mean more 
than outgrowth or offshoot of Egypt, although it has been interpreted otherwise. 



ance in sensual and in intellectual passions that families, 
republics, civil societies, the world, are dissolved, dis 
ordered, destroyed, swallowed up." l Again, Bruno s 
unorthodox standpoint with regard to the vows of chastity 
and of celibacy taken by nuns and priests is part of a 
healthy reaction towards naturalism from the false senti 
ment which condemned as unholy whatever pertained 
to the natural man. The place of Virgo is taken by 
chastity, continence, modesty, shame ; the contrasting 
vices being lust, incontinence, shamelessness. " It is 
through these," Bruno adds, " that virginity becomes a 
virtue. In itself it is neither virtue nor vice, implies no 
goodness, dignity, or merit, and when it resists the com 
mand of nature it becomes a wrong, an impotence, a 
tolly, madness express ; while if it is in compliance with 
some urgent reason, it is called continence, and has 
the essence of virtue, because it participates in that 
courage and contempt for pleasure which is not vain 
or worthless, but benefits human intercourse and brings 
honourable satisfaction to others." " The laws of the 
wise do not forbid love, but irrational love ; the syco- 
phancies of the foolish prescribe, without reason, limits 
to reason, and condemn the law of nature ; the most 
corrupt of them call it corrupt, because by it they are 
not raised above nature to become heroic spirits, but are 
depraved, contrary to nature and below all worth, to 
become brutes." 

In the third dialogue of the Spaccio is a digression 

The on Otium, Idleness, and the Golden Age, which had 

Age! " been brought into popularity by the pastoral poem of 

Tasso, the Aminta, and its imitators (e.g. Guarini in the 

1 P. 542. is. 

2 Spaccio, p. 526. II 5 Clemens translation (op. cit. p. 172) gives this saying an 
unnecessarily sinister meaning. 

3 Di Vlncuih in gcnere (Op. Lat. iii. p. 697. 26). 


Pastor Fido]. Otium presses its claim to a place in the 
heavens as being more truly a virtue than solicitude or 
strenuous effort, to which the place of Perseus had been 
given. Its chief argument is that through it the golden 
age had been instituted and maintained, by the law of 
idleness which is the law of nature, while it was through 
solicitude, with its following of vainglory, contempt of 
others, violence, oppression, torment, fear, and death, 
that the age had departed. " All praise the fair age of 
gold, when I kept minds quiet and peaceful, safe from 
this virtuous goddess of yours. For their bodies, 
hunger was sufficient sauce to make a delicious and 
satisfying repast out of acorns, apples, chestnuts, peaches, 
and roots, which benign nature administered at a time 
when such food was the best nourishment for them, gave 
them most pleasure, and kept them longest in life, which 
the many artificial sauces that industry and zeal have 
discovered cannot do." l Industry had introduced 
property, and divided up not only the earth, which is 
given to all its children, but also the sea, and perhaps 
the air as well ; so that instead of sufficiency for all 
there is too much for some and too little for others. 
It had introduced an unnatural inequality, and confused 
together peoples whom nature had intended to live apart, 
with the consequence that the vices of one race were 
being implanted upon those of others. The right of 
the stronger had taken the place of the law of nature, 
violence that of the peace of nature, which are the law 
and peace of God. 

O bella eta de 1 oro 

Non gia perche di latte 

Sen corse il fiume, et stillo mele il bosco. 

1 Lag. p. 503. 20. 


Ma n primavera eterna 

Ch hora s accende et verna 

Rise di luce, et di sereno il cielo, 

Ne porto peregrine 

O guerra, o merce a 1 altrui lidi il pino. 

Ma legge aurea et felice 

Che natura scolpi. S ei piace, ei lice. 1 

Bruno was no imperialist. Nature seemed to him 
to have fixed definite boundaries to the extension of the 
different races, by which the special genius of each was 
kept pure. In the Cena (126. 9) Tiphys and his 
successors (Columbus, Vespucci, and others are meant, 
although not named) are said to have "discovered means 
of disturbing the peace of peoples, violating the natural 
trend of the genius of countries, confounding what fore 
seeing nature had distinguished, doubling, through com 
merce, evil feelings, adding the vices of one race to those 
of another, propagating new incitements, instruments, 
methods of tyranny and assassination, which in time, 
by the natural vicissitude of things, would recoil upon 
our own heads." It was really, he thought, for the 
advantage of men themselves that the world-regions 
should be kept as distinct in their usages and customs 
as they are physically distinct by the natural divisions 
of mountains and tracts of sea. From region to region, 
vice and the poison of perverse laws and religions, the 
materials of discord and extermination, were propagated 
and disseminated to the suffocation of every good fruit ; 
there were no advantages which could compare with 

1 From Tasso s Aminta, act i. sub fin. Bruno hardly ever mentions the 
authors of the poems in his ethical works, so that the layman in literature has great 
difficulty in knowing which, if any, are his own. Thus Rixner and Siber translate 
the above, and give it as Bruno s (op. cit. p. 230). In the fourth line Bruno reads 
" E n " for " Ma n." 2 Cf. Infinite, p. 398. 16. 


these evils. 1 It should be remembered that the colonists 
of the day were the Spaniards, with the corruption and 
cruelty of whose rule Italians were only too familiar ; 
and their misdeeds were far greater in the new world. 

The age of gold, however, of idleness, and peaceful Progress 
happiness, was far from Bruno s ideal ; the reply of 
Momus to Otium showed that it had not made men 
virtuous in the golden age any more than the brutes 
were virtuous now that men were perhaps originally 
more stupid than many of the latter; but in their 
emulation of divine actions and their attempts to 
satisfy spiritual desires, difficulties had arisen and needs 
sprung up ; through these their minds were sharpened, 
industries had been discovered, arts invented ; and so 
from day to day out of the depth of the human 
intellect necessity brought forth new and marvellous 
inventions. 2 Thus more and more they advance, 
through pressing and earnest occupation, from the 
bestial nature, and approximate more and more nearly 
to the divine. That injustice and vice increase along 
with industries is only a corollary of the increase of 
justice and of virtue. If oxen or apes had as much 
virtue and spirit as man, they would have the same 
apprehensions, the same passions, and the same vices. 
So in men those that have in them somewhat of the 
pig nature, or of the ass or ox nature, are certainly 
less wicked, not infected by so criminal vices as more 
highly developed men might be ; but they are not for 
that more virtuous, unless the brutes also are more 
virtuous than men, being infected with fewer vices. 3 
In this generous conception of human progress, and of 
its spur solicitude, necessity, pain Bruno is quite at 
one with modern theories of human evolution ; it can 

1 Cf. Di Imm. vii. 16 (Of. Lot. i. z. p. 278). - Lag. p. 507. 6. :i P. 507. 14. 


hardly be said, however, that he anticipated the 
Evolution, evolution theory so far as it involves an identity of 
origin for human beings and lower animals. The idea 
that different human beings express different animal 
types was not a new one. It means in Bruno that such 
men have animal souls, but this is not because their 
bodies have reverted to the animal type. It is the soul 
that moulds the body and gives, in these cases, the 
animal expression to the face the look of wolf, or 
bear, or fox, or serpent. There is no question of a 
physical continuity between animal and man, but there is 
a psychical continuity, since a soul which is that of an 
animal in one generation may become that of a man in 
another. 1 A much nearer approach to the evolution- 
theory is to be found in the Cabala," where it is said 
Man and that if a serpent could have its head moulded into that 

thcanimals. r . . , , . , , , . . . 

or a man, its tongue widened, its shoulders broadened, 
arms and hands branching out from it, and, where the 
tail now is, a pair of legs, it would think, look, breathe, 
speak, work, and walk just as a man does, for it would 
be nothing but a man. Or if the reverse process 
occurred, in a man (involution ], in place of talking he 
would hiss, in place of walking he would creep, in place 
of building a palace he would hollow out a hiding-place 
for himself. This is not, however, because the body of 
the one had been transformed into that of the other 
animal, function following structure ; the soul with all 
its qualities is unchanged it is one and the same in 
both ; the differences are only in the power of expres 
sion. A serpent or any other animal might have a 
higher intelligence than man, yet remain inferior to him 
through poverty of instruments. If man had not 
hands, but two feet in their stead, however high his 

1 Vidt infra, ch. vii., re transmigration. 2 Lag. p. 586. 11. 


intelligence, family and social life would have been no 
more enduring with him than with the horse, the deer, 
or the pig ; it would only have exposed him to greater 
danger and more certain ruin ; and, in consequence, 
there would have been none of the institutions of 
doctrine, the inventions of discipline, the congregations 
of citizens, the raising of edifices and other things that 
represent human greatness and excellence, and make 
man the invincible superior over all other species. All 
this is referred not so much to his mind as to his hand, 
the organ of organs. 1 It is in the development of the 
hand, also, that modern anthropology has sought one of 
the chief conditions of human development. It is 
clear, however, that in these theories there are two 
positions not distinctly separated : one that the soul 
gives form to the body, the other that all difference 
comes from the body, the soul remaining apart, and in 
its essence untouched by the changes its body undergoes. 
We shall have to return to this question in the follow 
ing chapter. 

Another digression occurs under Hercules? where Riches and 
Riches, Poverty, and Fortune contend for the place of pov 
honour that is finally given to Courage or Fortitude. 
Such personifications of the virtues had been familiarised 
in Italian philosophy by Petrarca (Remedium utriusque 
fortunae], but Bruno refers back to Grantor s discussion 
of the relative value for the soul of Riches and other 
goods. 3 In our dialogue Riches is decided to be 
neither good nor bad in itself ; it may be indifferently 

i Lag. p. 586. 35 ff. 2 Ib. p. 469. 7. 

3 iicxtus Ma .L. xi. 51-58. Grantor was one of the Old Academy, and wrote a 
commentary on the Timaeus, as well as some ethical works, of which that " On 
Mourning " seems to have been most in vogue. The goods of the soul were placed 
in the following order of merit by him : Virtue, Health, Pleasure, Riches. Vidt 
Zeller, ii. 696. 


either, according to its possessor : therefore it is to 
incur neither disgrace nor honour, neither be condemned 
to Hades, nor raised up to Heaven, but to wander 
from place to place. It shall be found by no one who 
has not first repented of his good mind and healthy 
brain ; he must give up, according to Momus, all 
thought of prudence, " not trusting in Heaven, regard 
ing not justice or injustice, honour or shame, calm or 
storm, but committing all to chance. As a general 
rule Riches are to go to the most insensate, the most 
foolish, careless, silly to beware of the wise as of fire. 
Poverty, on the other hand (in inferior or corporeal 
goods), may be conjoined with riches in goods of the 
mind, as riches in inferior goods may never be, for 
no one that is wise or wishes to gain knowledge 
can ever achieve great things by their means. To 
philosophy Riches are an impediment, while Poverty 
offers it a safe and easy road. He will be great who in 
poverty is rich because he is content ; and he is a slave 
who in riches is poor because he has not enough. Not 
he that has little but he that desires much is really 
poor. The friends of Poverty are open, the enemies of 
Riches are secret ; the poor man by repressing desire 
may rival Jove in happiness ; the rich, ever spreading 
more and more widely the nets of cupidity, is plunged 
Avarice, more and more into depths of misery. Avarice is the 
dark side, the shadow, of both Riches and Poverty, 
ever fleeing Poverty and pursuing Riches, but ever 
eluded by the latter, and ever caught by the former ; 
far from Poverty in reality, she is ever close by it in 
imagination ; it is this darkness or shadow that make 


Poverty and Riches alike to be evil. One may be 

poor in virtue of affect (feeling, emotion) as well as 

Fortune. m virtue of effect (actual, material want). Fortune 



also is rejected, in spite of her claim to be absolutely 
just ; as all things are ultimately or really one, no part 
of the world, she claims, should be treated as more 
worthy or unworthy than another, and fortune regards 
all equally, or does not respect any particular person 
more than another, which is really justice ! 

To the place for which these have striven succeeds Courage. 
Fortitude, the servant of the higher virtues : " Constant 
and brave must be he that administers judgment, with 
prudence, by the law, and according to truth. He 
shall be guided by the book in which is the catalogue 
of the things the brave man ought not to fear, viz. : 
those which do not make him worse, as hunger, 


nakedness, thirst, pain, poverty, solitude, persecution, 
death ; and that of other things which, as they make 
him worse, must be avoided at all cost, gross ignor 
ance, injustice, infidelity, lying, avarice, and the rest. 1 
Beside Fortitude may be placed Simplicity? between simplicity. 
the vicious extremes of Boastfulness on the one hand 
and Dissimulation on the other, the latter being: the 


less hateful of the two : " sometimes even the o- o ds 


must make use of it, and to escape envy, reproach, 
outrage, Prudence is wont to cover Truth with her 
vestments." Simplicity is pleasing to the gods, for it 
has in a manner the likeness of the divine countenance, Seif-con- 
being always the same and unconscious of itself. That 
which reflects upon or is conscious of itself, makes itself 
in a sense to be many, to be other and other, becoming 
both object and faculty, the knowing and the knowable, 
whereas in the act of intelligence many things concur in 
one. The most simple intelligence does not know itself, 
by reflection, because it is absolute, pure light : and again 
it alone knows itself, negatively, for it cannot be hidden. 3 

1 Lag. p. 487, 488. 2 p .,-,2 (Cassiopoeia). 3 P. 493. 




The transition from ordinary morality, the virtue 
of the everyday life of human society, to the divine 
aspiration of the " heroic " soul, is to be found in the 
solicitude, virtue of Solicitude, and the primary triad of Truth, 
Prudence., and Wisdom. On the feet of Solicitude 
(Diligence, Endurance) " are the winged sandals of the 
divine impetus, through which she leaves beneath her 
the vulgar good, and contemns the soft caresses of 
pleasures, that, like insidious sirens, try to delay her in 
the pursuit of the works she seeks." On labour and 
fatigue she nurses the generous mind, enables it not 
only to subdue itself, but to attain the highest state- 
that of not feeling fatigue, or pain, when fatigue or pain 
must be undergone. In noble work fatigue is pleasure 
and not fatigue to itself, but in other than in such work 
or virtuous activity, it is not pleasure to itself, but 
intolerable fatigue. " Be with me " Solicitude con 
cludes, " generous, heroic, anxious Fear, stimulate 
me that I do not perish from the number of the 
illustrious before I perish from that of the living. 
Before torpor or death take from me my hands, grant 
that the glory of my works may not be in their power 
to take. Anxiety, grant that the roof be finished before 
the rain come : that the windows be whole before 
the winds of treacherous and unquiet winter blow. 
Memory of a well-spent life, thou shalt make old age 
and death destroy my soul before they disturb it. Fear 
of losing the glory acquired in my life shall make 
old age and death not bitter to me, but dear and 
desirable." The end which this strenuous virtue seeks 
is that of the intellectual triad placed in the highest part 
Truth. of the heavens by the gods, Truth, Prudence and 
Wisdom, which in reality are one and the same. 1 

1 Vide Lag. pp. 457 ft". 


Truth is the unity which stands above the all of 
things, and the goodness which is pre-eminent over 
all things, for being, goodness, and truth are one : in 
other words, it is the Eleatic One, the " implicit 
universe," of the metaphysical works. 1 It is before 
things as cause and principle, and things have dependence 
upon it : it is in things, as their substance, and through 
it things subsist : it is after things, for through it 
things are known without error. These three aspects 
represent metaphysical, physical, and logical truth re 
spectively. What is presented to our senses and may 
be grasped by our intelligence, is not the highest truth, 
but only the figure, image, resplendence, or appearance 
ot it. Prudence also is both above and in us. It is 
above as Providence, when it is also truth itself, and 
there Liberty, Necessity, Essence, Entity, all are one, 
the Absolute. In us Prudence is the virtue of the 
consultative and deliberative faculty, " it is a principal 
form of reason dealing with the universal and the 
particular. 2 has for its maid-servant dialectics, and for 
guide acquired wisdom, vulgarly called metaphysics, 
which deals with the universals of all things that fall 
within human knowledge." 3 So too Wisdom, Sophia, 
is at once supra-mundane, when it is one with Provi 
dence itself, light and eye in one, and mundane, 
inferior, not truth itself, wisdom itself, but participant 
in truth and in wisdom, an eye that is illuminated by 
a foreign light. The first is invisible, infigurable, 
incomprehensible ; the second is figured in the heavens, 
reflected in finite minds, communicated by words. The 
earthly or inferior forms, however, as Bruno makes 
clear, are of value only for the sake of the higher unity, 

2 A 

1 Vide supra, ch. 2. and cf. Cabala, Lag. 5/8. 35. 
reminiscence of Aristotle s <j)p6vr)iri.s. 3 Lag. 4.58. 459. 


to attain which is the real end of the philosophic life. 
" He who pretends to know what he does not know > 
says Wisdom, is a wanton Sophist : he who denies 
knowing what he knows, is ungrateful to the Active 
Intelligence, insults truth, and outrages me, as do all 
those who seek me not for myself, or for the supreme 
virtue and love of that divinity which is above every 
Jupiter and every heaven, but either to sell me for 
money, honour, or other gain, or to be known rather 
than to know, or to detract from and be able to destroy 
the happiness of others. . . . They that seek me for 
love of the supreme and first truth are wise, and there 
fore blessed." : Bruno s Summum Bonum is therefore 
knowledge, an intellectual comprehension of the All of 
things, as it is in the supreme Unity or source of the 
world. It is for the sake of this end of the few, the 
wise, that the many, the vulgar, and foolish, are to be 
kept at peace, in harmony with one another, following 
obediently their higher guides in religion or in the state. 
There is not in Bruno any more than in Spinoza any 
sense of the infinite worth, or the infinite pitifulness of 
man as an earth-born creature of hopes and fears, 
creeping towards the light, with the clogging darkness 
behind, groping in childish terror and childish trust, for 
the hand of a loving, human God. Therefore, although 
he lived in the midst of the Reformation, its true mean 
ing passed him by. 

1 Lag. 459. 460. 



WE now turn to the higher moral life, which is at the 
same time the religious life, of the heroic soul in its 
struggle towards perfection. This perfection consists 
in comprehension of the world as infinitely perfect, 
in the union with God as the source from which the 
world flows, the spirit in which it lives, and in the Love 
of God as at once infinite beauty and infinite goodness. 

We have seen that there are to Bruno, as to Plato 
and to Aristotle, two classes of men, the " vulgar " and 
the " heroic," l the lower or subject, and the upper or 
ruling classes : as in each of us there are two principles, 
a higher, intellect or reason or mind, and a lower, sense 
and sensual passion. The danger is as great to the 
world when the lower class attempts to usurp the place 
of the higher, as it is to the individual soul when passion 
overwhelms reason. The spread of pedantry, in the 
universities and in the churches, greater in his time and 
more menacing to human progress than it had ever 
been, was an illustration to Bruno s eye of the results 
ensuing when lower minds tampered with divine 
knowledge. 2 

The heroic soul is raised by the divine spirit within 

1 There is a mingling, in Bruno s use of this word, of meanings derived from %>a>s, 
and from Plato s fyws. 2 Lag. 717. 39 ff. 



it out of the turmoil of the constant change and 
vicissitude, to which the vulgar soul is, in common with 
all living things, subjected. " The beginning, middle, 
and end, birth, growth, and perfection of all earthly 
things are from contraries, through contraries, in con 
traries, and to contraries ; and where there is contrariety, 
there is also action, reaction, movement, diversity, 
multitude, order, degrees, succession, change." " There 
is never any pleasure," we read elsewhere, " without 
some bitterness ; nay, if there were not the bitter in 
things, there would not be the pleasurable, for fatigue 
makes us to find pleasure in repose, separation causes us 
to find joy in union, and so everywhere we find that 
one contrary is the reason of another being desired and 
pleasing : " l and so it is with pain. None, therefore, 
are ever satisfied with their state, except the unfeeling 
or the foolish who have no knowledge of their own ill, 
but enjoy the present without fear of the future, can 
find rest in what is, and have no feeling or desire for 
what might be : "in short have no sense of contrariety, 
which is figured by the tree of the knowledge of good 

and evil. 2 " Ignorance is the mother of sensual 

happiness and joy ; hence " the heroic love (in its 
beginning) is a torment, for it does not rest in the 
present, as does sensual love, but feels ambition, emula 
tion, suspicious fear for the future, the absent, the 
contrary." Yet the wise man is neither happy nor 
miserable, knowing that good and evil are alike 
relative, alike fading and temporary things, he is neither 
dismayed nor elated, but becomes continent in his 
inclinations, and temperate in his pleasures. Pleasure 
is not really pleasure to him, for he has present to 
him its ceasing ; pain is not pain, for he has by force 

1 Lag. 634. 4. - 634.. 22. 


of thought its termination before him : all mutable 
things therefore are to him as things that are not. 1 

Owing to the ever-moving cycle of change, the 
ordinary soul must of necessity fall back, in the course 
of the eternal process of its life, to the lowest stage, 
however high in the scale it may have risen ; but this, 
although an evil for it, does not prejudice the whole, 
in which all things work together for good. Some few, 
however, may escape this danger, through becoming 
united with the eternal Mind or Source. 2 They then 
cease to be subject to mutation, Mind being immut 
able, and persist in eternal blessedness and love. For 
such favoured ones of heaven, the greatest evils of this 
life are converted into goods, correspondingly great. 
It is suffering that compels the labour and the striving 
which lead most frequently to the glory of immortal 
splendour. Death in one age makes to live in all others? 

There are, however, two kinds of furori (or inspira- Kinds of 
tion). u In some there is only blindness, stupidity, un- 
reasoning impulse ; others consist in a certain divine 
abstraction by which some men become better in fact 
than ordinary men. These again are of two kinds, for 
some becoming the habitation of gods or of divine 
spirits, say or do miraculous things without themselves 
or others understanding the reason ; these for the most 
part are promoted to this state from one of rudeness 
and ignorance : the divine sense and spirit enters into 
them as into a house swept and garnished, they being 
void of any spirit or sense of their own. Others being 
more habituated to or skilled in contemplation, and 
having innr.te in them a lucid and intellectual spirit, are 
moved by an internal impulse and natural fervour, with 
love of divinity, justice, truth, glory ; by the fire of 

1 Lag. 1)35. 2 649, 650. J 626. 20 f. 


desire, fanned by the breath of purpose, they give edge 
to their senses, and in the sulphur of the thinking 
faculty enkindle the light of reason, by which they see 
further than ordinary men. These come in the end to 
speak and operate not as vases or instruments, but as 
principal artificers and agents the first have worth or 
dignity, the second are worthy : or the first are worthy 
as an ass that carries the sacraments, the second as a 
sacred thing. In the first we see divinity in effect we 
admire, adore, obey it ; in the second we see the 
excellence of our own humanity." 

The steps towards the highest peak of human 
excellence are compared, after Neoplatonist example, to 
Ascent to- the degrees in intensity of light, as we proceed from 
with S thT n darkness, in which it is entirely absent, to shadow, then 
to the colours in their order from black to white, next 
to the brightness diffused from polished or transparent 
bodies, the rays outflowing from the sun, finally to the 
sun itself, in which light is most truly and most vividly 
itself. 2 First of all it is needful for the soul to turn to 
the light, " by act of conversion to present the light of 
intelligence to its eyes, so to regain its lost virtue, to 
strengthen its sinews, to terrify and put to rout its 
enemies," the lower, sense-feelings and passions. The 
conversion seems to arise as by an act cf grace from 
above ; or, to express this in other worcs, the soul or 
spirit tends towards that with which it has greatest 
affinity, as the sun-flower tends towards "he sun, and 
this affinity in the human soul is Love. 3 The symbol 

1 Lag. 639. 22 ff. ; cf. Sig. Sig. 48, for the first kind rf furor (Of. Lat. 
ii. 2. 191). 

2 Lag. 672. I. 

3 Cf. the Sonnet on p. 631 : 

Amor per cui tant 1 alto il ver discerno, 
Ch apre le porte di diamante nere, 


of love is fire, for love converts the object of love into 
the lover, as fire is of all elements the most active, the 
most potent to transform others into itself. 1 It is the 
divine in man that makes him or impels him to love 
God as He is in reality, and the goal or aim of that love 
is to take God into himself, to become one with God. 
No really divine or heroic love can ever rest satisfied in 
anything but spiritual beauty. For there are three kinds 
of love, as there are three kinds of Platonic rapture 
the contemplative, the practical, the idle or voluptuous. 
One from the perception of corporeal form and beauty 
rises to the thought of the spiritual and divine ; another 
enjoys the vision of beauty for itself, and for the grace 
of the spirit that is reflected in the grace of the body ; 
while still another enjoys only the material pleasure that 
beauty provides ; the last is the love of barbarous 
natures, incapable of raising themselves to love that 
which is really worthy of love. 2 

To the two higher kinds of love correspond the two Beauty. 
kinds of beauty sensible and intelligible. That in the 
body which calls forth love its beauty is a certain 
spirituality, which consists not in definite dimensions, 
" nor in determinate colours or forms, but in a certain 
harmony and consonance of members and colours." 
Corporeal beauty is not, however, true or permanent 
beauty, and therefore cannot call forth true or per 
manent love. The beauty of bodies is accidental, 
"shadowy," and like other qualities is absorbed, altered, 
and decays through the change of the subject-body, for 
the latter frequently from beautiful becomes ugly, without 
any change taking place in the soul. Reason, however, 

Per gl occhi entra il mio nume, et per vedere 
Nasce, vive, si nutre, ha regno eterno, 
Fa scorger quant ha 1 ciel, terr et inferno. 
1 Lag. 628. 18. 2 Lag. 639. 


apprehends the more truly beautiful by conversion to that 
which makes beauty in body, the source of the beauty, 
and that is the soul, which has so moulded and formed 
it. Intellect rises still higher, sees that while the soul 
is incomparably beautiful above the beauty of bodily 
things, it is not beautiful in itself, or primitively, other 
wise there could not exist the diversity that is found in 
souls some being wise, lovable, beautiful, others foolish, 
hateful, ugly. Hence it must rise to that higher 
intelligence which of itself is beautiful and of itself is 
good. That is the One, the Supreme Captain, who 
when presented to the eyes of the thoughts militant, 
illuminates them, encourages, strengthens, and leads 
them to victory in the contempt of every other beauty, 
and repudiation of every other good. Its presence, 
therefore, is that which enables us to overcome every 
difficulty and conquer every force. 1 The Intelligence 
which is the truest beauty attainable by us, is not yet 
Divinity itself, but only the highest " intelligible species," 
or form, the highest Idea. Divinity itself is the final, 
the most perfect object of thought and love, not attain 
able in our present state, in which God cannot become 
object to us, except through some image. 2 No image 
of the Divine, however, even the most inadequate, can 
be abstracted or otherwise derived by the senses, from 
corporeal beauty or excellence. Such can be formed 
only by the intellect, and on such the human intellect 
feeds, in this lower world, until it be allowed to behold 
with purer eyes the beauty of divinity itself. In a fine 
simile Bruno describes how one may come to some 
mansion, most exquisitely adorned, and as he goes about 
observing now this, now that, is pleased and happy, 
filled with delight and noble wonder. But if then he 

1 Lag. 672. 29. 2 646. 2 ff. 


sees the living Lord of these beautiful forms, of beauty 
incomparably greater, he lets go all care or thought of 
them, intent wholly on this one, their source. Such is 
the difference between the earthly state, when we see 
the divine beauty in intelligible or abstract forms, 
derived from its effects, its works, masterpieces, its 
shadows and similitudes, and the perfect state, when we 
are allowed to behold it in its real presence. 1 The 
" intelligible species " of this conception, which Bruno 
derives from Neoplatonism, are simply the ideas of the 
" speculative sciences," which include, however, what 
would now be called the natural sciences. Human 
Perfection consists in a form of knowledge, a system 
of thought, by which the knower becomes one with 
the mind in which this thought-system originated, the 
mind of God. Our knowledge that is, our perfection 
can never, however, be complete, since the object, the 
knowable, can never be perfectly comprehended. But 
it may be made complete so far as our vision extends ; 
and herein lies a saving clause for the " ordinary " 
man. Few can reach the goal, but all may run ; it is 
enough that each do his best possible. The generous 
spirit prefers to fail nobly in the pursuit of the highest 
rather than to succeed in inferior and baser enterprises. 2 
Acteon typifies the human intellect in its pursuit of 
the divine wisdom and capture of divine beauty. 3 
The wild beasts whom he tracks down are the " in- 

1 Lag. 646, 647. 

2 647. 34 ff. ; cf. the Sonnet (Tansillo s) on p. 648 : 

Poi che spiegat ho 1 ali al bel desio, 
Quanto piu sott il pie 1 aria mi scorgo, 
Piu le veloci penne al vento porgo, 
Et spreggio il mondo, et vers il ciel m invio. 

Fendi sicur le nubi, et muor contento ; 
S il ciel si illustre morte ne destina. 

3 All: sel-ve i mastini e ; -veltri slaccia II grovan Alteon, etc., p. 651. 


telligible species " or ideal forms, rarely sought, and 
rarely seen by those that seek them. His dogs are 
the thoughts that issue outwards in search of good 
ness, wisdom, beauty beyond himself. The fate of 
Acteon his death under the fangs of his own hounds 
represents how the generous spirit, coming into the 
presence of that highest beauty, is ravished out of itself, 
is converted into the very prey which it pursued : itself 
is now the prey of its own thoughts, for it has con 
tracted divinity into itself, has no longer to seek it 
outside of itself : as love converts into the thing loved. 1 
His death means that he ends his life according to the 
world of folly, of sense, of blindness and of fancy, only to 
commence the new intellectual life, the life of the gods. 2 
The first step, however, in the desire of the infinitely 
The infinite beautiful is but the beginning of an endless series ; the 
heart goes out on an endless quest, while the intellect 
cannot but follow. For the intellect cannot rest in 
any definite or finite idea or object, but is driven ever 
forwards towards the source of all ideas, the ocean of 
all truth and goodness. Whatever form may be pre 
sented to it and comprehended by it, it judges that 
there must be a greater above and beyond that. Hence 
it is in constant discourse and movement, for whatever 
it possesses is seen to be a measured thing, and therefore 
cannot be sufficient in itself, nor good in itself, nor 
beautiful in itself. It is not the universe, not absolute 
Being, but Being " contracted " to this or that nature, 
species, form, represented to the intellect, and presented 
to the mind (animo}. Thus always from beauty com 
prehended, and therefore measured or limited, the 
beautiful by participation, we progress towards that 
which is truly beautiful, beautiful without any limit or 

1 Lag. 6,!, 652. 2 6^3. 6. 


margin. 1 On the other hand, J this infinite process is not 
in vain, for it is not from imperfect to perfect, but a 
" circular movement about the degrees of perfection, in 
order to arrive at the infinite centre which is neither 
formed nor form." This paradox Tansillo (taking the 
part of the Nolan) refuses to explain. It probably hints 
at the idea, as familiar in Bruno as the infinite process 
itself, that in each form or degree of perfection, the 
infinite with all its perfection, is wholly present. It is 
a centre which is at the same time the circumference. 

In a subsequent dialogue 3 the object alike of intel 
lectual pursuit and of the heart s desire is described as 
a positive or " perfective " infinite. The will cannot 
rest satisfied with a finite good ; but if there is other 
good beyond, desires it, seeks it, because, as the com 
mon saying goes, the acme of one species is the foot 
and the beginning of the next higher species. The 
highest good being infinite, it is communicated in 
finitely, but also according to the nature of the things 
to which it is communicated. Neither to the universe, 
e.g. as regards mass and figure, nor to the intellect, nor 
to the heart, are any definite limits fixed ; yet the 
intellect and the heart may still become perfect through 
or by their object, for that object is not merely a 
" privative infinite 4 " or potentiality, but a perfective or 
positive 5 infinite as being itself actuality and perfection. 
When the intellect conceives truth, or light, the good, 
the beautiful, within the whole capacity of its nature, 
and the soul drinks of the divine nectar and of the 
source of eternal life, so much as its vessel can hold, it 
is seen that the light (of truth) extends beyond, and 

1 Lag. 654, 655. 2658.16. 3 73i. 9 ff. 

4 E.g. darkness is fri-vati-vely infinite, although it has a limit in light, a positive 

5 E.g. light is positively infinite j its limit darkness is privation. 


that the intellect may go on and on, penetrating more 
deeply into it. The nectar and the source of living water 
are infinitely productive ; the soul may quench its thirst 
in it again and again. 1 

Thus the blessed or perfect life for Bruno meant a 
permanent, continuous absorption of the individual soul 
in the divine goodness a permanence or eternity which 
was also one with the instant of time. There was no 
greater value at any later moment than at the first 
union of the soul with its divine object : the soul was 
thereby removed, once for all, out of the constant flux 
of things, the incessant renewal and rebirth of the soul 
throughout the ages, and lifted up into the calm of the 
eternal and immutable. 

Even the heroic soul, however, is, as other souls, 
Soul and on the border line between corporeal and incorporeal 
nature ; in part it tends to rise towards the upper 
world, in part inclines towards the lower world. If 
sense ascends to imagination, imagination to reason, 
reason to intellect, intellect to mind, then the soul is 
wholly converted into God, and its dwelling-place is 
the intelligible world. In the contrary direction it 
descends through conversion to the sensible world, by 
way of intellect, reason, imagination, sense, and the 
vegetative faculty. Mind (the highest faculty in Bruno s 
psychology : the intuitive perception of unity with 
the supreme ideal world) is oppressed by its conjunc 
tion with the more material faculties of the soul ; 
knowing of a higher state to which the soul might rise, 
it despises the present in favour of the future. If a 
brute had sense of the difference between its condition 
and that of man, and between the baseness of its state 
and the nobility of that of man, to which it did not feel 

1 Lag. 731. 


it impossible to rise, it would prefer death which should 
put it on the way to that state, to life which held it fast 
in its present one. So the soul, compelled by its loftier 
thoughts, as if dead to the body, aspires upwards. 
Although living in the body, it " vegetates " there as 
dead is present in it so far as animation is concerned, 
but absent from it in its proper action. 1 

Thus the heroic soul, although present in the body, 
is absent from it with the better part of itself, and 
unites itself in an indissoluble bond with divine things. 
It feels neither love nor hatred of mortal things, con 
sidering itself too great to be the slave and servant of 
its body : the latter it regards simply as a prison-house 
within which its liberty is closed in ; a snare that holds 
its wings entangled ; a chain that binds its hands ; fetters 
that hold its feet fast ; a veil that bewilders its vision. 
Yet it is neither slave, nor captive, nor entangled, nor 
chained, nor held fast, bound nor blind, for the body 
cannot tyrannise over it further than itself allows. It 
has spirit allotted to it proportionally to its nearness to 
divinity, since the corporeal world and matter are subject 
to divinity and nature. So it may make itself strong 
against fortune, magnanimous against injustice, bold in 
face of poverty, disease, and persecution. 2 

The soul of man, in Bruno s psychology, as in Th >e soul 
Aristotle s, performs a double function : " the one is 
to vivify and actuate the body, and the other to con 
template the higher world. It has a receptive faculty 
towards the spiritual, an active faculty towards the 
corporeal. Body is as dead, a thing privative towards 
the soul, which is its life and perfection, and the soul is 
as dead, a thing privative to the higher illuminating 
intelligence from which its intellect derives both its 

1 Lag. 662, 663. 2 701. 30 ff. 


tendency or nature, and its actual form, its realisation." 1 
The soul is not locally in the body, but is related to 
it as intrinsic form, and as extrinsic giver of form : 
moulding the members, and giving shape to the 
composite result from within and from without. Body 
is in soul, soul in mind, and mind either /j, or is in 
God, as Plotinus said." : The dualism of nature and 
divinity, of corporeal and spiritual, intellect and sense, 
permeates the ethical as it permeates the earlier philo 
sophical thought of Bruno : nowhere is the Neoplatonist 
effort to overcome the dualism inherent both in Plato 
and in Aristotle less effective than here. Thus the 
Distraction body remains -in spite of the continuity seemingly 
maintained between the highest and the lowest of the 
emanations from the supreme, or the identity asserted 
between sense, imagination, reason, intellect, the chief 
hindrance to the aspiration of the soul. For the body 
is in continual movement, change, alteration, and its 
faculties are conditioned by its inherent nature, its 
operations by its faculties. " How then can immobility, 
subsistence, entity, truth, be understood by that which 
is always different from itself, always acting and 
becoming in different ways ? What truth, what 
representation can be depicted or impressed when the 
pupils of the eyes are dispersed into water, the water 
into vapour, the vapour into flame, the flame into air 
that into other things and again other, the object of 
sense and sense-knowledge passing endlessly through 
the infinite cycle of changes ? " Thought and passion 
take their character from their object, or the sense-data 
on which they are based : but u that which has always 
before it now one thing now another, now in one way 

1 Lag. 732. 23 ; the terms correspond to 5iW/ais ami evtpyeioi, or V\T] and 
eZSos, respectively. 2 647. 7. 



now in another, must necessarily be quite blind in 
regard to that beauty which is always one, and in one 
manner, which is unity itself, entity, identity." 

Into the very life of the generous soul there enter, 
accordingly, the contrarieties by which on a lower plane 
the soul is governed: -"the skilfulness and art of 
nature cause it to faint with desire for that which 
destroys it, to be content in the midst of torment, to be 
tormented in the midst of all content. For nothing 
derives from principles of peace, but everything from 
contrary principles, through the victory and dominance 
of one side of the contrariety. There is no pleasure of 
generation on one side without the pain of corruption 
on the other ; and the things that are becoming and 
those that are decaying are conjoined in one and the 
same composite being. The sense of joy and the sense 
of sorrow go ever together ; it is called joy rather than 
sorrow if the former predominates and has greater force 
to solicit the sense." The life in death of the more 
divine soul is only an extreme instance : it is the death 
of lovers from an extreme of joy, the Cabalist mors 
osculi, and is at the same time eternal life, such as man 
may have potentially, in disposition, in this world, but 
actually, / ;/ effect, in eternity alone." Again it is the 
contrast of infinite desire and finite power : " the 
weakness of the human mind which is intent on its 
divine enterprise, and suddenly is engulfed in the abyss 
of incomprehensible excellence. Sense and imagination 
are confused and absorbed, the soul can neither go 
forward nor backward, nor know where to turn, but 
loses its being just as a drop of water vanishes in the 
sea, or a little vapour thins out and loses its proper 
substance in the spacious immeasurable air." 

1 Lag. 744. i ff. 696. 24; cf. 681. 22. / 705. 35. 4 716. 14. 



intelligence As the height of our intelligence, so is the depth 
of our love or passion ; the higher, i.e. the more 
comprehensive, the object of knowledge, the more 
absorbed become feelings and emotions in its con 
templation. 1 The most complete absorption is that of 
the heroic mind in its infinite and all -comprehensive 
object. That is not perfect divine heroic love which 
feels the spur or the bridle, or regret or grief for any 
other love ; but that which is entirely without sense or 
feeling of other passions. It is so deep in its delight 
that nothing can displease or divert it or cause it to 
stumble in the least, and this is to reach the highest 
blessedness in our present state to have pleasure 
without any sense of pain. 2 The loss of sense is caused 
by the absorption of the whole being in virtue, in the 
truly good, and in felicity. Regulus, Lucretia, Socrates, 
Anaxarchus, Scaevola, Codes, are instanced as noble 
human beings who had no feeling or sense of the 
greatest tortures, or what would be such to baser human 
natures. 3 " A keener joy, or fear, or hope, faith, or 
indignation, or contempt, turns the mind away from any 
present, less vivid, passion." "One who is more 
deeply moved by the sight of some other thing, does 
not suffer the pangs of death. The truly wise and 
virtuous man, not feeling pain, is perfectly happy, so 
far as the present life admits, at least in the eye of 

1 Lag. 66^. 36 ; cf. 666. 5. 2 P. 680. 2 ff. 

* Cf. also Sigillu! Sigiliorum (ii. 2. 192), where Polemon and Laurentius are 
added to the above list. The highest kind of " contraction " or concentration is the 
subject, viz. that which is proper to philosophers. Cf. also DC Vinculis in genire 
(vol. iii. p. 657). Diogenes the Cynic and Epicurus are placed side by side 
as having held that they had attained the highest good in this life possible to 
man, when they could keep the mind free from pain, fear, anger, or other 
melancholy passions and preserve it in a certain heroic delight. By this con 
tempt of the ignoble things in this life, viz. those subject to change, they protested 
that they had attained, even in this mortal body, to a life similar to that of the gods. 

ii GOD IN US 291 

In its aspiration the soul need not go beyond itself, 
need only enter into the depths of its own mind 
(mens} ; " for this it is unnecessary to open the eyes 
wide upon the heavens, to raise aloft the hands, to wend 
one s way to the temple, to intone to the ears of idols, 
that one may best be heard ; rather we should enter 
into the innermost heart of ourselves, for God is near 
to us, with us, within us, more truly than we are in 
ourselves ; being soul of souls, life of lives, essence of 
essences." Divinity is not more nor less present in the 
other worlds than in our own or in ourselves. 1 There 
fore the heroic soul withdraws from the many, neither 
hating them nor seeking to be like them, associating 
only with those whom it may make better, or who may 
make it better ; but aiming ever to be self-sufficient in Aspiration, 
its own wisdom. " The soul must come to the point 
when it no longer regards but despises fatigue, and 
the more the contest of passions and vices rages within, 
the struggle of vicious enemies without, the more it 
must aspire and rise, and pass, with one breath (if it 
may be) over this mountain of difficulty. Here there 
is no need for other arms or shield than the grandeur 
of an invincible mind, the endurance of a spirit which 
maintains the even tenor of its life, proceeds from 
knowledge, and is regulated by the art of speculating 
upon things high and low, divine and human, in which 
its highest good consists." 

To the love in the human soul there corresponds Love of 
love in the divine nature, because love is of the essence 
of divinity. It precedes, in the mythology of the 
ancients, all the other gods. Hence there is a natural 

1 Lag. 700. 35 ; cf. 681. 19. 

- P. 700. 14, 701. 4 ft. cf. also 710. ii. The divine beauty excludes the possi 
bility of our loving in its stead any other object. Also 713. 30. 


instinct or tendency of all things towards the beautiful 
and good. Love is that by virtue of which all things 
are produced, which is in all things, and is the vigour 
of all things ; by its guidance souls rise to contemplation, 
by the power of flight it inspires, the difficulties of 
nature are overcome, and men become united with 
God. 1 To see God is to be seen by God ; to be heard 
by divinity is to hear the voice of divinity ; to be 
favoured by its grace is the same thing as offering 
oneself to it. The divine potency that is wholly in 
everything does not offer nor withdraw itself except 
through the conversion of the other, its object, to it, or 
aversion from it. 2 To love God is to be loved by God. 
It is only through love, again, that we can approach the 
inmost nature of God ; we cannot reason or even 
think of the divine without detracting from it rather 
than adding to its glory. 3 To think of God is to limit 
Him, and, therefore, as we have seen, every concep 
tion of Him is inadequate : the deepest, the highest 
knowledge of divine things is by way of negation, 
never by affirmation. For the divine beauty and divine 
goodness can never fall within our understanding (our 
conceptual knowledge), but are ever beyond and beyond 
in absolute incomprehensibility. No finite intelligence 
ever perceives the substance of divinity, but always its 
similitude, its image ; even the highest intelligences are, 
in the language of the schools, not formally, but only 
denominatively, gods, or divine, divinity and the divine 
beauty remaining one and exalted above all things. 4 
Being itself eternal, unchangeable, the divine truth 
reveals itself to the few to whom it is revealed not 
as in the physical sciences, which are acquired by the 

1 Op. Lat., ii. 2. 195. Lag. 704. 10. 

3 Lag. 699. 3. 4 P. 742- 24; cf. also 723. 28 and 724. 17. 


natural light of sense and reason, proceeding from the 
known to the unknown, in successive stages, but 
suddenly and at one stroke. There is no need of 
expense of time, laborious study, active inquiry, to 
secure it ; but it enters into us as readily as the solar 
light is present, without lapse of time to him who 
turns to it, and lays himself open to receive it. 1 When 
the soul is thus wholly turned to God to the Idea of 
Ideas the mind is lifted up to the unity above essence, 
and becomes all love, all simplicity and unity. The 
soul is permeated at once with the desire or Jove of 
the divine beauty in itself, " without similitude, figure, 
image, or form" a desire or love which is its own 

1 Lag. 741. 14. 



THE hostility which the Italian and some of the Latin 
writings of Bruno showed towards the positive religions 
of his day, alike the Catholic, the Reformed, the 
Jewish, and the Mahomedan, had two grounds : his 
belief that religious or sectarian strife was the chief 
cause of the evils of war and civil discord that were 
rife throughout Europe, and the fact that one and all 
of these Churches claimed the right of limiting thought 
as well as of dictating practice, and in their exercise of 
this right formed an unendurable barrier in the way of 
human progress. Of the Roman Catholic Church, to 
which all his life Bruno belonged in spirit if not in 
outward conformity, he never expressly denied any of 
the essential doctrines, as he maintained before the 
Inquisition at Venice. On the other hand, he admitted 
that he had occasionally made indirect criticism of 
these doctrines, speaking or writing " philosophically," 
not " theologically." To the doctrine of the Trinity, 
for example, he had given a rationalist, half-mystical 
interpretation, seeing in it a figure or metaphor of the 
coincidence in God of the three highest principles 
Mind (the Father), Intellect (the word, the Son), and 



Love, the creating, vivifying force of the Universe (the 
Comforter or Holy Spirit). It is quite clear that he 
did not accept as " philosophically " true the dis 
tinction of Persons, or the special divinity of Christ 
Only once, perhaps, does he write seriously of Christ as 
the Son of God, and that in one of the posthumous 
works, the Lam-pas Triginta Statuarum. 1 " Charity is 
the most perfect and consummate harmony, by which 
the soul in us becomes so harmonious in itself that it is 
attuned both to God and to all men equally, not only 
to friends but even to enemies ; to this perfection we 
are drawn, impelled, invited by the Son of the all- 
mighty God, to raise us up to the likeness of the 
Father, who maketh His sun to rise upon good and 
evil, and sends His rain upon the just and the unjust, 
uplifting us from the savage condition of life common 
to brutes and to the uncivilised, who love their friends 
and neighbours, but hate strangers and enemies." On 
the other hand, this very law is elsewhere spoken of as 
coming not from the " evil spirit or genius of any one 
race," but from God, the Father of all, as being in 
harmony with universal nature, and as teaching a 
general philanthropy ; " that we should love our very 
enemies, not be like brutes and barbarians, but trans 
form ourselves after the image of Him who makes His 
sun to rise upon good and evil, and makes the rain of 
His mercies to fall upon just and unjust. This is the 
religion which I observe, as beyond all controversy, 
and above all disputation, both from the conviction of 
my mind, and in accordance with the custom of my 
fatherland and race." 

What Bruno rejected in Christianity was the whole 

1 Op. Lot. iii. 158. 
* Op. Lat. i. 3. 4 (Letter to Rudolph II., prefixed to the Art. ad-v. Math.}. 


mass of doctrine which suggested a miraculous or 
supernatural interference with the order of nature, 
for the benefit either of a particular person, or of a 
particular race. That is the nerve, for example, of his 
satire upon the popular idea of Providence in the 
Spaccio. 1 There Mercury, on one of his visits to 
Sophia, relates a number of things he has to see carried 
out, by the order of Providence, about the little hamlet 
of Cicala. They are none of the cleanest the number 
of melons that are to ripen in Franzino s garden and 
that are not to be gathered till over-ripe, of jujubes 
that are to be picked from Giovanni Bruno s tree, that 
are to fall to the earth, or that are to be eaten by 
worms ; how Vasta, in curling the hair on her temples, 
is to overheat the iron and burn fifty-seven of them, 
but is not to scorch her head and so on. These 
unpleasant details, however, are only a prelude to a 
philosophical conception of the divine action. God, 
it is said, does not provide for this and that in 
dividual as occasion arises. 2 He " does all things with 
out deliberation, anxiety, or perplexity : provides for 
innumerable species and an infinite number of in 
dividuals, not in any order of succession, but at once 
and all together : He is not like a finite agent, doing 
things one by one, with many acts, an infinite number 
of acts for an infinite number of things, but does 
everything, past, present, and future, with one simple 
and unique act." So the knowledge of God is simple, 
containing implicitly in itself all things that are or 
happen in the extended universe (the explicate unity). 
It is only to our confused vision that this divine 
government does not appear just and holy. Mercury 
advises Sophia to put more strength and warmth into 

1 Lag, 452. 3 ff. 2 Cf. Lucretius, ii. 1093 ff. ! Lag. 454. 6. 


her prayers, for to the mind of the infinite the small 
is as important as the great ! " The least things are 
just as much a care to the gods as the principal things, 
for the greatest and chiefest cannot subsist without 


the least and lowliest." The minutest trifle in the 
order of the universe is important, for great things are 
composed of little, little things of least things, and 
these of atoms and minima. 1 The act of the divine 
knowledge is the substance of all things : all are there 
fore known, ordained, foreseen. " Divine knowledge 
is not as human, which comes after things, but is 
before and in all things, and if it were not so, things 
could not be causes or agents, either proximate or 
secondary." 2 

Thus the order of nature is fixed and eternal, 
ordained and foreknown from all time. We have 
seen that Bruno rejected the superstitious idea that 
comets and other heavenly winders had a super 
natural meaning ; and that he found the truest signs 
of divinity in the orderly course of nature. 3 Miracles 
he explained either through imposture or through 
sympathetic magic. Along with these he rejected also 
what may be called the morbid side of mediaeval 
Christianity its constant dwelling upon the physical, 
sensational aspects of Christ s life, sufferings, and 
death, 4 its appeal to the hysterical in man. Against a 
religion of incoherent personal emotion and brute 
ignorance, he would set one of humane love and of 
reasoned knowledge. The chief value of the New 
Testament, in his eyes, was its preaching of " the 
Gospel law of mutual love," which the tyranny of 

1 Lag. 455. 35. Cf. De Immense, ii. 13. 310, 311. 2 Lag. 456. ~. 

3 Cf. the mockery of Momus in the Spaccio (sub Orion, Lag. p. 543). 

4 Sig. Sig. Of. Lot. ii. 2. 190. 


Rome had violated. 1 The religion to which he gave 
his adherence was that which raised the dead, healed 
the sick, gave to the poor ; not the contrary form to 
which the Inquisition had brought the Church in 
Catholic lands. 

Man and With great boldness Bruno drew from his concep 

tion of the Infinite the consequence that there can be 
no action of the finite upon the infinite, no change or 
effect in God produced through man. A practical 
corollary of this was the argument for freedom ot 
thought. The virtue of Judgment^ in the Spaccio^ has 
entrusted to it the defence of the true law, and the 
removal of unjust or false laws, dictated by enmity to 
the peace and happiness of the human commonwealth. 
It shall kindle and fan the appetite for glory in the 
human breast, as the only sure stimulus for inciting 
men to the heroic deeds that increase, maintain, or 
strengthen republics. But it shall not pay heed to 
what men imagine or think, provided their words and 
deeds do not corrupt the peace of the realm. Deeds 
are its only concern, and it has to judge the tree, not 
by the fineness, but by the goodness of its fruits. 
Heaven is not interested in any way in what does not 
interest man ; it is moved and angered, not by any 
thing done, said, or thought by men, except in so far as 
the welfare of republics is endangered. Gods would 
not be gods if they were either pleased or displeased, 
grieved or delighted, by what men did or thought ; 
they would be more needy than men, would be as 
dependent on men as men are on themselves for 
utility and profit. 2 The gods are beyond all passion : 
they have active anger and pleasure only, not passive. 

1 Oral. Consol. Of. Lat. i. I. 51 ; cf. i. 3. 4. 
* Cf. Lucretius, ii. 646 : " Omnis cnim per se divcm natura neediest" etc. 


Therefore they do not threaten punishment or promise 
reward for good or evil that results in them, but for 
that committed on peoples and in the human societies 
which they foster by their divine laws and statutes, since 
human laws do not suffice. The gods do not seek the 
reverence, fear, love, worship, or respect of men, for 
any other end or utility than that of men themselves. 
Glory cannot be added to the gods from without ; they 
have made their laws not to receive glory but to 
communicate glory to men. The sole sphere of justice 
is the moral actions of men with regard to other men ; 
inward sins are sins only so far as they have outward 
effect, and inward justice is not justice without out 
ward practice. 1 In the Cena Bruno had already made 
practical use of this principle in maintaining that the 
Scriptures teach not science, but an ideal of conduct, n e ot Bibl?> 
and therefore that any argument from them as to the science but 

i . i i j j r morality 

actual constitution or the world is devoid or com- ; t3 a ; m . 
pelling force, while, on the other side, no scientific 
theory or hypothesis can be ruled out simply because 
it is contradicted by any statement in the Scriptures. 
They were written, not in the service of our intellect 
to instruct us in philosophy, but for the grace of our 
mind and heart, ordaining by their laws what should be 
our behaviour in the moral life. The Scriptures were 
written in the language and adapted to the intelligence 
of the vulgar, the people of the time. "A historian 
making use of words which the ordinary man could 
not understand, would be absurd ; and still more so 
would be one who desired to give to a whole people a 
law and model of life, if he were to employ terms 
which he alone or very few could understand, and 
should waste time over matters indifferent to the end 

1 Lag. 463. 464. 


for which the laws were ordained. For this reason 
Alghazel said that the function of the books of the 
law was not so much to probe the truth of things, or 
speculation, as to promote good customs," and to 
provide for the welfare of republics and of humanity. 
To use the terms of science where there is no need, is 
to ask that the vulgar, the foolish many, from whom 
only conduct is required, shall have a special com 
prehension, to ask that the hand shall have the eye, 
whereas it is not made by nature to see, but to work, 
and to obey the eye. 1 

The revelation of the Scriptures is accordingly re 
duced to that of a moral ideal, to be enforced upon the 
ordinary man by the threat of future punishment and 
promise of future reward ; but it is an ideal which the 
wise man would acquire by the light of reason alone, 
and which he would pursue for its own sake. 

On the other hand, the ceremonies and worship 
of the Church were never attacked by Bruno, nor did 
he ever place himself in open hostility to it ; while he 
submitted, formally at least, to the rites of the Pro 
testant churches in Geneva and Helmstadt. The 
grounds of this outward conformity may have been 
various : Bruno had no interest in speculative theology, 
and probably kept an open mind towards the prevailing 
dogmas and the ceremonies that symbolised the 
truths contained in them. He believed with Pom- 
ponazzi, and others after him, that religion is a good 
thing for the many, the foolish and ignorant of the 
world, while knowledge or philosophy takes its place 
with the wise. The former must be governed by laws 
which they have blindly to obey, hence the supernatural 

1 Cena, Lag. 169. 17 ft. ; cf. Spinoza, Tractatus TAeologico politicus, esp. ch. 14 and 
15, and preface, 24: " Scripturam rationem absolute liberam relinquere et nihil 
cum philosophia commune habere." 


sanction required ; the latter pursue the true good 
without this stimulus, by virtue of reason. But for the 
sake of the many, the few must conform in outward 
practice with the religion of their state. 1 Brunnhofer 
goes so far as to see in this the idea of Lessing, that 
religion is a means whereby men are gradually educated 
upwards to a true knowledge of God, leading them 
from the state of darkness and savagery to that of 
moral behaviour, at which point only the full light of 
science and philosophy takes the place of religion. 2 
There was a religion, however, for the few as well as 
for the many, for the wholly civilised as well as for the 
semi-barbarians of Europe, the philosophical religion 
of the Heroici Furori. Another reason for his con 
formity was that Bruno regarded the historical religions 
as allegories, or metaphors, of truth. Not that it was 
for every one to say what was metaphorical merely, 
what truth or fact : in the hands of Jews, Christians, 
and Mahomedans, and the many sects of each, the 
same Scripture met with as many interpretations as the 
number of the sects/ 5 The interpretation of the divine 
words, uttered by inspired prophet or poet, for the 
divine inspiration was not given at one place or one 
time only, was again the work of the wise few. 

Bruno s own leaning was towards Rationalism, as 
in his interpretation of the Trinity, of Creation, of the 
Incarnation, of Immortality, of Providence. 4 In this he 
was only following Lully and Nicolaus of Cusa, who 
also " demonstrated " some of the deepest of Christian 
doctrines, interpreted in their own way. Yet Bruno 
was by no means a thorough Rationalist : there remained 

1 Cf. what is said of the danger of preaching determinism to the many, in Inf., 
Lag., 317. ii, and Her. Fur., Lag. 619. ZO. 

Giordano Bruno s, Weltanschauung, etc., pp. 2;, 24. 
3 Cena, Lag. 171, 171. * l r ide Berti, Does. xi. and xii. 


always a sphere within which Faith only was available, 
to which neither reason nor intellect could penetrate. 
We remember that he ridiculed Lully for attempting 
to demonstrate some of the particular doctrines which 
" are revealed to the worshippers of Christ (Christie oil] 
alone, are contrary to all reason, philosophy, other 
faiths or superstitions, and are capable of no demonstra 
tion, but admit of faith only." * It is improbable that 
any ironical meaning should be read into the words ; 
for the distinction between faith and knowledge or 
science, between theological and philosophical discussion, 
between the supernatural light and the light of nature 
or reason, occurs again and again, not only in Bruno s 
replies to the Inquisitors of Venice, but in the published 
works. Here and there he deprecates the taking of 
his statements, should they conflict with or tend to 
weaken the accepted faith, as " assertively " made, 
and claims, like Copernicus, the right of arguing for 
any thesis which is " more in harmony with our sense 
and reason, or at least less out of harmony with them 
than the contradictory thesis," however high the 
authority of the latter may be.- Discreet theologians 
would fix no limit to natural reasonings, however far 
these went, provided they did not determine against 
the divine authority, but subordinated themselves to it. 3 
Even the Heroici Furori disclaims any supernatural 
reasoning or revelation. " If there is another order, 
above the natural, which either destroys or corrects the 
latter, I believe in it, and may not dispute about it, for 
I do not reason in any other than a natural spirit." 
He is dealing with Philosophy, not Theology. 4 In 
other words, Bruno refuses to dogmatise, just as he 

1 Comp. Arch. art. Lull., Of. La!, ii. 2. 42. 

- Cf. Lat. ii. 2. 78 (preface to Triginta Sigi/Ii) ; cf. i. T. 82 (Acrotismui), and the 
Sfaccio (supra, p. 253). 3 Caum, Lag. 267. 7. 4 Lag. 693. 22. 



condemns dogmatism in others ; philosophy or science 
should be allowed to pursue its own course, irrespective 
of religion, and untrammelled by the Church, so long 
as it does not attack the authority of the Church, and 
thereby weaken the forces that make for peace and 
harmony among men. 1 Short of that, entire freedom 
of thought should be allowed. Sometimes it might be 
well that the wise and heroic, as well as the others, 
should submit and humble the light of reason received 
from God, "the mark of divinity hidden in the sub 
stance of our nature," if some higher light forbid or 
warn. But, " In matters of philosophy at least, by 
whose free altars I have taken refuge from the threaten 
ing waves, I shall listen only to those doctors who bid us 
not close the eyes but open them as widely as we may." 2 
It has been suggested that Bruno, like many others 
who were unstable in the Church, made use of the 
subterfuge of the twofold truth ; 3 in other words, that 
he professed to disbelieve theologically what he accepted 
as philosophical truth : or that he held one and the 
same proposition to be true to sense and reason, i.e. to 
harmonise with all other " natural " knowledge, and yet 
to be false to faith, i.e. inconsistent with revealed truth. 
But no theologian denied more strenuously than Bruno, 
in spite of occasional lapses, the possibility of two 
kinds of truth. There were indeed two kinds of 
evidence : " one from the light of our own senses 
and rational inference, such as we require in speculative 
sciences, in the arts, and in practical life, where true 
and false, good and evil, are apprehended by human 
reason and natural light ; " the other, from light of a 
foreign, namely, a divine source. For as God neither 

1 Cf. the passage in the Infinite, referred to above, Lag. 317. 1 1. 
2 Op. Lat. i. 3. 6. 3 E.g. by Sigwart. Cf. supra, p. 75. 


deceives nor is deceived, and is not envious, but good 
in the highest degree is indeed truth and goodness 
itself; so, when he speaks to us of occult things, of 
mysteries, it must be evident that everything he pro 
poses for our belief is true, and that everything he 
proposes for our doing is good. But God is also the 
Author of nature, of our senses, of our eyes, and of 
that truth and evidence which is in them and according 
to them ; truth does not contradict truth, goodness is 
not opposed to goodness. The word of God that is 
spread through the parts of nature, His hand and in 
strument, for Nature is either God himself, or the 
divine force manifest in things, is not opposed to the 
word of God, from whatever other part or principle it 
springs. 1 There could be no clearer assertion of the 
right of philosophy and science to pursue their own 
way in the discovery of truth. Nothing revealed from 
above can conflict with truth acquired by the discursive, 
slow-moving human reason, nor on the other hand 
can any real truth arrived at by science ever contradict 
the pure, genuinely - revealed, word of God. The 
sphere of faith is separated from that of reason ; faith 
follows the authority of revelation, is an infallible 
certainty equal to, if not greater than, that of sense- 
knowledge and the intuition of first principles. Re 
vealed truths are outside the sphere of sense and reason, 
not, however, as opposed or contrary to the truths 
belonging to that sphere, but as above them. While 
philosophical faith enables us to act according to reason 
and human nature, guiding us by principles innate in 
ourselves, to the perfection of our natural condition, 
theological faith leads us by supernatural principles to a 
supernatural end, to become formed in the likeness and 

1 Sumrr.a, Of. Lat. i. 4. ioo, ioi (sub. Evidential, 


in the knowledge of God. 1 Neither must we call to 
the bar of reason what is above reason, summon before 
our tribunal " cases " of eternity, 2 nor on the other 
hand must faith be allowed to prejudice the discovery 
of truth by natural methods : if so, it becomes a danger 
and a snare. 3 Bruno was therefore a Rationalist only 
in a limited sense : while he claimed for the philosopher 
entire freedom of interpretation of religious dogmas or 
legends, the interpretation was to be governed not by the 
facts of ordinary knowledge, but by the mystical in 
tuition of divine truth, given, in inspired moments, to 
the heroic soul. There were two types of rationalism 
in mediaeval philosophy that of Averroes, which 
sought to supplant the positive religions by a religion of 
philosophy, and that of Scotus Erigena, which aimed at 
upholding popular faiths while allowing the philosopher 
freedom of thought in interpreting the doctrines these 
faiths involved. Bruno s rationalism is clearly of the 
second type, although personally he disliked all pre 
vailing religions for the reasons already given. 4 All 
positive religions expressed for him one and the same 
truth, some more, some less adequately, that the 
supreme end of human activity is the union of the 
soul with God, whereby it becomes one with God and 
is raised above the sphere of sense and reason, above 
nature, out of the ordinary cycle of human life and 
human death. That which of all others most nearly 
approached his ideal was the half-mythical religion of Egyptian 
the Egyptians, from whom indeed he believed the later ArSsm. 
religions, as well as the earlier philosophies, to have been 
inspired. The Egyptian worship of the gods in the 
form of living animals was symbolic of the truth that 

1 Lie. at. p. 99, sub Fides. 2 lb. s. Auctontas ,- cf. Causa, Lag. 271. 40. 

3 E -g- f "f- La g- 3 "8. 1 6. 4 Cf. Tocco, Conferenva, p. 50 ft". 


God is in all things : " Animals and plants," says Jupiter 
in the Spaccio, " are living effects of nature, and nature 
is nothing but God in things. Diverse things represent 
diverse deities, and diverse powers." God is in all 
things, but not fully expressed in each, "in some more, 
in some less excellently," in some one divine attribute 
or power predominates, in some another. Thus the 
viper or the scorpion represents Mars, the cock or the 
lion the Sun, because of their greater affinity, respec 
tively, with these deities, or rather with the divine 
powers which the deities embody. For as divinity is 
communicated in a divine scale downwards to nature, 
so from the light that is reflected in natural things we 
may rise to the divine life that is above them. It was 
on these sympathies between animals, plants, metals, on 
the one hand, and the various attributes of divinity on 
the other, that genuine magic and divination depended. 
The \lagi ascended by the same scale of nature to the 
highest divinity, by which that divinity itself descended 
ro the least of things, in its self-communication. Their 
ceremonies were not vain imaginations, but living voices 
that reached the very ears of the gods. " These wise 
men knew God to be in things, divinity to be latent in 
nature, acting in and scintillating diversely from diverse 
subjects, and making them to participate in itself, as in 
its being, life, and intelligence." Of Jupiter, Venus, 
and the rest is said what Bruno no doubt thought of 
Christ, and other founders of religion, that they had 
been mortal human beings. What men adored was 
not Jupiter, as a divine being, but divinity, as expressed 
in Jupiter : in this or that man were worshipped the 
name and symbol of a divinity which in their birth com 
municated itself to men, and with their death was 

1 Lag. 529 ff. 2 Sfaccio, Lag. p. 530. 


thought to have completed its work and to have re- I 
turned to heaven. 1 But divinity is communicated not 
only through these divinely chosen human vessels, but 
through earth, and sun, and moon, the planets, the 
stars, and all that is in them : one divinity under in 
numerable names, according to the innumerable modes 
in which it is diffused. Endlessly varied also are the 
methods by which it must be sought, under conditions 
appropriate to each thing, while it must be honoured and 
worshipped with endlessly different rites, because the 
kinds of favour we seek to obtain from it are beyond 
number. Later religions had transformed for the worse 
what to the Egyptians was merely a fable or metaphor, 
by which a mystery above the reach of sense was ex 
pressed, or presented to the mind in a sign or symbol. 2 

How Bruno understood the relation of the finite The finite 
human soul to the divine mind, or to the soul of the ^finite! 
universe, it is not easy to determine, and it is doubtful 
whether he ever made it clear to himself. Men, as 
natural beings, enter into the determinate order of 
Nature, which, as we have seen, is the divine power that 
moves matter to life. This divine power is the soul in 
all things, everywhere " one mundane spirit, wholly in 
the whole and in every part of it, producing all things in 
each according to the conditions of matter, time, and 
place." Men, for example, are not descended from one 
parent only, but have come to life in the ordinary 
course of nature, in different places and at different 
times ; hence the difference between the races. 3 We 
have seen that Bruno also reverts repeatedly to the 

1 Spaccio, 531. -! DC Immense, Op. Lot. i. 2. 172. 

3 De Immense, Of. Lat. i. 2. 284 f. : " Every land produces all kinds of animals, 
as is clear from inaccessible islands, nor was there one first wolf, or lion, or bull] 
from which all wolves, lions, and cattle are descended and transported to these 
islands, but at every part the earth from the beginning has given all things," etc. 


idea that various men present in their expressions 
various animal characters, which are an index to their 
inward nature, and at the same time point to a transi 
tion from a previous or towards a future state. 1 And 
again it was shown how animals differed from men not 
necessarily in degree or quality of mind, but only in 
the outward organism through which alone the mind 
could express itself. It is clear then that man should 
have no higher place than any other animal, should 
stand no nearer God than they ; yet in a sense he does, 
for the human state appears to be the only one from 
which the soul may raise itself out of the incessant 
flow of earthly vicissitude, and enjoy the calm of eternal 
intellectual union with God. 2 The soul of any animal 
(or plant?) may in time, however, take the body of a 
man, when this outlet is given to it, just as that of a 
man, should he refuse his opportunity, may sink back, 
and indeed must sink back, to the animal state, in the 
never-ceasing cycle of change. But what precisely is 
this soul that passes from one body to another, perhaps 
from one star to another ? In one passage we read 
that as in corporeal matter the body of the ass does not 
differ from that of the man, so in spiritual matter the 
soul of the ass remains the same as that of the man ; 
the soul of either is not different from that which is in 
all things, i.e. the soul of the universe. 3 We should 
then have to assume that it is matter, not the form or 
soul, that differentiates individuals. According to the 
differences of the organised bodies are the souls that 
are in them ; or, it is one and the same soul which 
constitutes the vital and cognitive principle in different 

1 Cf. Sfaccio, Lag. 411. 9 ; Her. Fur. 662. 22 ; Cantus Circatus (Of. Lot. ii. 1)5, 
De Minima (i. -\. 207) ; De Me nude (i. 2. 327), and iii. 261, 65} 

- Cf. Plato s F/acJrus, 6 1. :! Calala, Lag. ^84. 


animal bodies, and in different " worlds " or stars. 
The individual human and animal souls would be 
merely modes of the one earth -soul, just as the 
different star -souls would be merely modes of the 
one soul of the universe, the first and highest emana 
tion of divinity. The immortality of the individual 
soul would mean accordingly its reabsorption, at the 
close of its bodily life, into the eternal ; but it would 
be impossible then to ascribe any continuity or identity 
to the souls of two beings which succeed each other 
in nature. This impersonal immortality is that which 
is most prominent in the Italian dialogues ; it gives 
place, so far as prominence is concerned, to quite 
another standpoint in the later Latin works. Thus 
we find in the Causa the comparison of the presence 
of the spiritual in matter to that of a voice in a 
room : it is wholly in the room and in every part of 
the room, yet it is only one utterance that is so 
heard in the different parts. 1 It might be added that 
the different degrees of perfection or of divinity in 
different things would correspond exactly with the 
differences in the intensity, vividness, of the sound in 
nearer and more distant parts of the room. As matter 
itself is ultimately one with spirit, 2 the outcome of this 
theory is an extreme Pantheism ; especially as in the 
Causa the transcendent Unity, elsewhere distinguished 
from the soul of the universe, is disregarded. Divinity 
constitutes both existence and essence of all things, and 
all things are ultimately one God, in whom individual 
beings have their reality, and in whom each is one with 
all other beings. " We have not to look for divinity 
at a distance from us, for we have it with us, more 
truly intimate to us than we are to ourselves" ; and so 

1 Lag. 242. 3. - CauM, Dial. 4; esp. Lag. 265, 38 ft. 


with all other finite things. 1 It has been shown also 
that death from this standpoint is merely the dissolu 
tion of a composite thing into its immortal elements, 
spirit and matter ; 2 death is a change of " accidents " to 
the substance (i.e. of qualities, conditions), never a 
change of substance itself. 3 Not only we, but all other 
substances, spiritual and corporeal alike, are beyond 
reach of death ; but as all substances are ultimately 
one, this does not mean a peculiar, personal immortality 
for each of us as separate beings. 

It follows also from this aspect of Bruno s philo 
sophy, that as all things are divine, so all are good. 
The forms of all living things men, animals, metals, 
even those of deformed creatures are beautiful and 
perfect in heaven (i.e. sub specie aeternitatis)* All 
things being subordinated to the will of the best, 
everything is good, and tends towards good ; the con 
trary is only apparent when we refuse to look beyond 
the present, as the beauty of a building is not manifest 
to one who sees only a part of it, a stone, a piece of 
cement, a partition wall, but is clearest to one who can 
see the whole, and is able to compare part with part. 5 
Th< ; worth But there is another aspect of Bruno s theory of 
individual, the relation of the finite individual soul to the uni 
versal spirit, according to which every finite thing has 
an infinite worth from the very fact of its existence as 
a member, or part of the universe. It is in this phase, 
later in time than the other, but never completely 
dissociated from it, that the real contribution of Bruno 
to the history of philosophy appears. 

It is foreshadowed in the Heroici Furori? where 

1 Cena, Lag. 128. 5 ; cf. Space io, 533. 16, 539. 2, and Of. Lat. i. 3. 146. 
- Lag. 164. 1 8 ff. 

3 Lag. 202. 39 ff., 238. 2- ft"., 303. 17, 317.7,409. 13,547. 16; Of. Lat. i. 3. 142. 

4 De Urnbris (ii. I. 46 . 5 Inf. 303. 21. 6 Lag. 66. 7. 



the pursuit of an infinite object by a finite intelligence 
is justified from the infinite potentiality of the latter, as 
eternal and unlimited in its capacity for delight and 
blessedness. The infinite desire is itself a pledge of 
its fulfilment in an eternal life. 1 The individual, finite 
as it is, must realise in itself the whole nature of the | 
universe to which it belongs ; each thing, each substance 
or monad, realises in the course of its life all other 
possible existences. Each takes on successively all pos 
sible forms, just as at every moment all possible forms 
are actually realised in the universe as a whole. Each 
thing, and every part of each, present to us the 
" similitude," the image of the universe. It is precisely 
the thought which afterwards loomed so largely in the 
philosophy of Leibniz, that each monad is a mirror of 
the universe. The transmigration of the earlier philo 
sophy appears in a far nobler light in this phase. The 
soul of man does not change in itself as it passes 
through its innumerable forms ; now it is endowed 
with the " instruments " or members of the human 
body ; anon it will take up the members of another 
body ; " for the soul which has now the bodily organs 
of a horse there await the bodily members of a man 
and of all other kinds of being, in regular series, or in 
confused order ; the death of the present members has 
no bearing upon the future life and its innumerable 
forms. The soul would not suffer if this were known 
to it ; the wise soul does not fear death, sometimes 
desires it, and goes to meet it. Before every sub 
stance lies eternity for duration, immensity for place, 
omniformity for realisation." The soul is not limited 

1 Cf. Bartholmess (vol. i. p. 124), who refers to Cardan and Campanella as 
offering a similar "proof" of immortality. 

2 De 1mm., Op. Lat . i. I. 205. 


to the earth alone, but has the infinite worlds before it, 
for its dwelling-place. It is owing to this individual 
(indivisible, therefore unchanging) substance the soul 
that we are what we are ; about it as a centre there 
occur in each life continuous " massing and unmassing " 
of corporeal atoms, through which the changes of form 
are brought about. " By birth and growth the spirit- 
architect expands into this mass of which we consist, 
spreading outwards from the heart. Thither again it 
withdraws, winding up the threads of its web, retiring 
by the same path along which it advanced, passing out 
by the same gate through which it entered. Birth is 
expansion of the centre, life consistency of the sphere, 
death contraction to the centre." It is the soul that 
gathers about it, groups and vivifies the atom-mass ; 
and the strongest argument for its immortality is that 
it cannot be of less value, of inferior condition, than the 
atoms themselves of which it avails itself to its own 
ends, and which are in their nature imperishable. 1 
Each soul exists apart in its own unity and individu 
ality ; the soul of the universe does not impart any 
thing of itself to the souls of its members.- The 
hierarchy of souls is not a scale of beings within 
beings, but a multitude of realities, co-existent to all 
eternity, the Monas Monadum at their head, represent 
ing perfectly, completely, at every moment (i.e. time- 
lessly), the reality of all the others, yet separable from 
them. Of the others that is higher which knows more 
perfectly, and in closer unity that is, more adequately 
the universe to which it belongs. Thus there is the 

1 De Minima, bk. i. (i. 3. 143). There also it is said that the transformations 
are not fortuitous, but depend on the character of the life that has been lived, as 
Pythagoras and the Platonists taught. 

2 Bruno " inclines " to this view only in one of his latest works, the Lam fas 
. iii. 59), but it is clearly implied in the De Minima. 



daemon or soul " which is wholly in the whole extent 
of the life of the earth, by the life of which we live, and 
in the being of which we are ; " above it is the in 
dividual soul or substantial nature which is in the wider 
extent of the solar system to which the earth belongs ; 
above it again the soul of the whole system of the 
universe ; and highest of all the mind of minds God, 
the one spirit filling all things wholly. 1 

So in the Lampas the Intellectus primus is said to be 
separable from particular finite intelligences. It does 
not belong to their substance : it works in them, but 
not as a part of them. It does not gradually leave the 
being to which it has presented itself when that begins 
to decay, but simply ceases to operate, just as it comes 
also suddenly to each, if at all. 2 

It follows that each of the lower monads is so far 
imperfect that it is never at any one time all that it 
has the possibility of being ; the eternal essence of 
humanity, for example, the truth of humanity, its ideal, 
is realised not in any one individual, but only in the 
species as a whole, 3 and this is true of the perfection of 
every other species. But Bruno s optimism surmounts 
this difficulty. The evil, the imperfection, is so only 
to the individual, and in that particular phase of its 
life. Each thing has a double tendency and a double 
striving to remain in the state in which it is, and to 
press beyond that to realise new forms. But each thing 
has in itself the nature of the whole is therefore in its 
inmost nature perfect. It is imperfect only in its explicit 

1 De Minimo, ii. ch. 6 (Op. Lat. i. 3. 208 ff.). Cf. i. z. So : "The seats of the 
blessed are the stars ; the seat of the gods is the ether or heavens ; for the stars I 
call gods in a secondary sense ; the seat of God is the universe, everywhere, the whole 
immeasurable heaven empty space, of which he is the fulness." For Bruno s 
DutKjtitlogy, -vide i. 2. 6 1 (De Immetiso, iv. i i), and i. 2. 399 (De Monade). 

- Lun. pas, Of. Lat. iii. 48 ; cf. Her. Fur. Lag. 741. 15. 

3 Her. Fur. Lag. 721. 33. 


nature on its outward side. The striving after new 
life is due to the felt conflict, or want of harmony, 
between what it has in it to become its inner self 
and what it has actually become, the limited form in 
which it appears. On the one hand evil is necessary 
for good, for were the imperfections not felt, there 
would be no striving after perfection ; all defect and 
sin consist merely in privation, in the non-realisation of 
possible qualities. " It would not be well were evil 
non-existent, for it makes for the necessity of good, 
since if evil were removed the desire of good would 
also cease." l In its whole life, however, the soul will 
realise all good, and therefore is only per accident im 
perfect. On the other hand, however mean in itself at 
any moment, it is a necessary part of the whole, and 
therefore, relatively to the whole it is good. "If we 
look to the order of the universe it will appear that 
every action and effect is good by way of necessity, for 
even the things which appear the most trifling and sordid 
are parts of greater and more noble things, as the form 
less are parts of the formed, the least are necessary 
elements of the great, the great of the greatest ; and 
as the less cannot subsist without the least, so 
neither can the greatest without the great. All beings, 
therefore, of whatsoever nature, are good, if they 
are rightly considered, not less good than greater 
things, if we take into account the fact that the 
goodness of the whole depends on the goodness of 
its parts." 

Every part, every individual in the universe, differs 
from every other; each has itsown inalienable individuality 
by which it stands out from all others and is itself. So 
far was this principle carried by Bruno that, as we have 

1 Lampas, Of. Lat. iii. 21 ; cf. 23. 2 /^ p_ , o g^ 


seen, he denied that any body could ever occupy the 
same place twice ; the planets moved not in circles or 
regular paths, but ever in spiral course, so that at each 
moment their places were other than at any prior or 
later moment. No two circles, no two lines in nature, 
were ever exactly equal ; hence there was never a perfect 
circle nor a perfectly straight line. The principle is not 
at all an epistemological one. It does not mean that 
"due could not distinguish between two precisely equal 
things, but that two such things could not exist, not 
even in the minutest forms of nature, since the infinite 
variety of the infinite all must reflect at every moment 
the infinite, eternally realised, thought of the One 

There are accordingly three aspects of God in Bruno s God in 


philosophy three different standpoints from which He 
may be approached. The first is that of natural religion 
God in Nature. Nature is " the omniform image 
of the omniform God His great living semblance 
(simulacrum)." x Its order reveals the mind from which 
it springs the stars u declare the glory of the majesty 
of God and the works of His hands. Thence we are 
uplifted to the infinite cause of the infinite effect." 
Nature is God in things, 3 His infinite mirror, the 
explicate, unfolded, extended, immeasurable world, and 
He is implicitly everywhere in the whole. 4 There is, 
however, no argument from the world to God s existence. 
From the first the infinite power and goodness are 
assumed, and the universe, in Bruno s thought, is 
simply a broad general revelation of what each one of 
us may find in himself. 5 

1 Op. Lat. \. i. 205. 

2 Op. Lat. i. 2. 51 ; i. i. 68. 3 i. 2. 151. 4 i. i. 241. 

5 De Immense, bk. i. ch. 10-13. 

Cod in us. 


The form which the cosmological argument takes in 
Bruno is that as individual things, taken singly, must 
be referred each to a finite principle and cause, a finite 
effect implying a finite power ; so from the point of view 
of the universe of things, the innumerable individuals in 
immeasurable space must be referred to an infinite first 
cause. But to our thought the universe is only an 
inciting cause ; we cannot know God or anything of 
God s nature from it further than an architect or 
sculptor can be known from one or all of his works. 
The beauty and majesty of external nature leads us to 
aspire to God, its source ; but a nearer spring of know 
ledge is in ourselves. " We are led to regard divinity 
not as without us, separate or distant from us, but as 
within ourselves (since it is everywhere wholly), for it 
is more intimate to us than we can be to ourselves, since 
it is the substantiating and most essential centre of all 
essences and of all being." It is from these two 
aspects of his philosophy, the identifying of nature with 
God, and the identifying of the true being of each of 
us with God, that Bruno has been described as a Pan 
theist. So far, however, as this term implies the identity 
of the individual things with each other, the conception 
that all things are one, not in the sense of forming a 
unity of differents, but in the sense of an indifference 
or uniformity of all, the term " Pantheism " would 
give a very false impression of Bruno s religious 
belief. It is neither the Pantheism which reduces all 
to a lifeless one, in which all differences are merged, 


nor that which breaks up the one into a many in 
which all differences are lost ; but the Pantheism of 
a living, self- manifesting One, which is throughout 
eternity unfolding itself in the diverse units of the 

1 Of. Lat. i. i. 6F, etc. 


world a pantheism not different from that of any of 
the higher religions. 

Neither in nature, however, nor in ourselves, in the God in 
soul of man, is the whole being of God to be found. 
Could we indeed see the substance, the truth of our 
selves, could our eye in seeing itself see all things, as 
the eye of God in seeing other things sees itself, then 
it would be possible to understand all things and to 
create all things, for we should then in reality be God. 
We never penetrate to the deep-lying individual in our 
selves, but see only the accidents, the externals ; as we 
never see our own eye, but only its reflection from a 
mirror, so our intellect cannot see itself in itself, nor 
anything else in itself, but always some external form, 
semblance, image, figure, sign. 1 The truth of things 
God everywhere eludes our sense and our reason, 
our discursive intelligence. It is revealed, as we have 
seen, only to our intuitive, comprehensive glance a 
sudden insight for which reason only prepares the way. 
Yet even this insight, " comprehension," is not " com 
prehending." We are brought, perhaps, through it 
into contact and into harmony with Him, but He is 
never, even to intuition, knowable. To be known 
would mean to be comprehended, limited, and therefore 

First, then, God, the Monad, or Mind, is the true, 
innermost nature of things ; " in themselves things are 
in motion, in matter, dependent, defective, are rather 
non-entia than entia^ for as from not-being they become, 
so from being they may cease to be ; hence they truly 
exist only where they cannot cease to be, i.e. in the first 
cause and unfailing principle, which has power to bring 

1 Cf. Op. Lat. ii. 3. 90 (De Imag. Camp.). "Intellect" is here use-1 in a genera! 
sense, not in the special one of " intuitive thought." 


them forth when it will. Therefore they are more 
truly in the Monad itself, and consequently are more 
truly known in it, in simplicity and togetherness, where 
all things are one in an ineffable sense, without distinc 
tion, distribution, or number." l God is the source of 
the determinations, the forms of all things. " The first 
measure is Mind itself : for all measure receives its 
denomination from mind " 2 (mensura, mens}. " One is 
mind, everywhere wholly, giving measure to all things ; 
one intellect, giving order to all things ; one love, pro 
ducing harmony between all things." The first 
section of the Praxis Descensits sums up the relation, 
the meaning of " creation," thus : 4 " God is the 
universal substance, being, by which all things are ; 
essence, the soul of all essence, by which whatever is, 
is ; more intimate in every being than its form or its 
nature ; for as nature is the ground of the being of 
each thing, so the deeper ground of the nature of each 
thing is God." 

In the second place, the order and life of things has 
its source in God, as the Monas ordinatrix ; the whole 
order of nature, both as it is simultaneously, as it has 
been, and as it shall be, lies " complicitly," grasped in 
one thought, and realised in one act, in his Mind. 
" What immutable substance wills, it wills immutably, 
i.e. it wills necessarily, not as determined by an alien 
will, which enforces the necessity, but of its own will ; 
this necessity is far from being contrary to liberty ; 
liberty itself, will, and necessity are one and the same " 
(in God). 5 Divine necessity differs from natural causa 
tion, the sequence of causes and effects, in that in 
nature the causes, will, and knowledge may be frus- 

1 Sumrr.a, Of. La!, i. 4. 117. It does not imply their formal identity. 
" Math. Of. Lat. i. 3. 16. s i. 2. 346. 4 i. 4. 73. 5 i. 4. 95. 



trated, the effect averted ; but divine necessity is neces 
sity in all respects to will, to know, to act, are one. 
In the third place, God is above and beyond both Theism. 
natural things and their order in the universe as a 
whole. In the later works, it is no longer as a mystical 
being inaccessible, because wholly abstract, empty of 
content, the sublimated unity of things that God is 
posited. The Neoplatonism of the earlier works, 
although remaining in the language and even in much 
of the thoughts of the later, has been overcome in fact. 1 
God is indeed transcendent, beyond the world, but He 
is so only as comprehending the world in Himself, its 
source, its truth yet more than the source of things or 
of their order. In all other things we may distinguish 
between existence and essence (i.e. the fact of their 
being, their historical presence in the world, and their 
nature, through which they are what they are) ; in God 
alone these are one or indistinguishable. 2 God and 
things differ by a greater difference than substance and 
accident i.e. things are not accidents, or "modes" of 
God. They differ from one another by their special 
differentiae, but resemble in other respects. God differs, 
not as marked off, limited by them, but as containing 
them all in essence, presence, power and eternity. 3 He 
is not apart from things, but in them ; in them not as 
comprehended or contained by them, but as compre 
hending and containing them, and as the essential basis 
of all things, the centre of the universal life and sub 
stance. 4 He is all things in all, because He gives exist 
ence to all ; He is none of them, because above all, 
transcending each and all in essence, nobility and power. 5 

1 For Bruno s revolt against the mystical in Neoplatonism, cf.Jje 1mm. v. i. i 
(Of. Lat. \. 2. 118), and cf. viii. p. 2^8_ff^_3l3 ; De Men., p. 410. 

2 Op. Lat. i. 4. 79. ~~ *~Ib. 83. 4 Ib. 85. Ib. 86. 


He comprises all things, not as excluded and, as it were, 
looking upon them from apart and from above, for He 
is also comprised by all things. He is comprised also 
not as included, contained, repressed within alien limits, 
for He also comprises all things. He is therefore 
within all things, as He who gives essence to all things ; 
and is the basis of all being, the heart and source of all 
life. He comprises all things, as excelling them, 
governing, moving, disposing, limiting Himself un 
limited. 1 Hence, also, as we saw, He is nameless ; 
names are for distinguishing, defining, separating from 
other things, but He is above all difference, other 
ness, diversity, multitude 2 ; or again, all names, all 
predicates, attributes, are equally true of Him, 
because He comprises all in Himself. It is in this 
sense that He is Monad of Monads, entity of entities, 
" in whom are all things, who is in none, not even 
in Himself, because He is indivisible, and is simplicity 
itself." 3 

Bruno s philosophical religion is in the end a theism, 
but theism of a purely intellectual or rationalist type. 
The natural world is after all nothing over against God 
who subsists in absolute simplicity as Mind ; in abso 
lute immobility, changelessness as Intellect (the World 
of Ideas) ; in absolute perfection, self-sufficiency, and 
self-satisfaction as Love, or Holy Spirit. Over against 
this self-contained Trinity, the changing and passing 
world is a non-ens : as it changes not, neither can it 
know change : to know change would be a change in 
itself its knowledge is as immutable, as simple as itself. 
" Although we see things come into being that before 

1 Op Lot. i. 4. p. 99. God is not, however, passively comprised : cf. iii. 509 (De 
rerum princip.*) : " Metis eminentius tola in toto ita u: etiam sit tola extra totum et supra 
totumj etc. 

" Op. Lat. iii. 42 (Lampas), cf. i. 4. 85, 86. 3 i. 3. 146, 147 (De M:n.} 


were not, and the world itself, as is believed, was pro 
duced out of nothing a new thing, yet from this 
change and novelty of effects, no change in His action 
or power can be inferred, for He exists above all motion 
and all vicissitude, an unchanging agent in eternity ; 
not as artificers, or material principles, moved by 
changing dispositions to new willing, new faculty, new 
effects, but from the instant of eternity, above time and 
above change, He creates all that which becomes in 
time, in change, in motion, in vicissitude. Before and 
above time and motion there is not always time and 
motion, but there we find divinity, immutable and in 
variable. He has from eternity willed that to be which 
now is." " There liberty makes necessity, necessity 
attests liberty." " Past is not past to it (the First In 
telligence), nor future future, but the whole of eternity is 
present to it as one whole, all together, in its complete 
ness." Seldom, even in recent idealist philosophy, has 
the World of Ideas maintained its hold so powerfully 
over a mind whose whole trend was towards a natural 
istic interpretation of things. The religious instinct 
dominates to the last Bruno s thought ; these passages 
are from the very latest of his works. Each and all of 
his speculations on nature, on its elements, its indi 
viduals, its general laws, bring him back to the all- 
embracing Mind, in which nature has its source, but 
which nature by no means exhausts. So his specula 
tions on the nature of man, on the moral life, on the 
inspiration of the artist and of the generous human 
soul, the hunter after truth, point again to a thought, a 
world above nature, revealed neither capriciously nor 
yet to the natural faculties of the seeker, but to a 
divinely implanted power of intuitive insight. It was 

1 Summa, Of. i. 4.. 93, g(j. 2 LaiKfas, Of. Lat. iii. 45. 


an attempt, more consistent perhaps and more thorough 
than any other has been, to combine the independence 
and freedom and worth of individual souls, of the finite 
many, in one thought with the absolute unity, necessity, 
eternity of God. And this, after all, is the one aim 
philosophy has to achieve. 



PERHAPS no philosopher of equal originality and 
strength has had so little apparent influence upon 
contemporary or later thought as Bruno. His name 
hardly occurs in any of the writers of his own or the 
following century ; when it does occur, it is mentioned 
only that the author may make sufficiently clear the 
discrepancy between the actual or reputed views of 
Bruno and those of himself. Yet it is easy to under 
estimate the influence his writings and his personality 
exercised ; neither in France, in England, nor in 
Germany could his prolonged stay have failed to rouse, 
in some at least of his hearers, sympathy with his 
lofty conception of the universe and of man s destiny ; 
through them Bruno s books must have passed into 
the hands of many philosophers, both before and after 
they were placed upon the Index Expurgatorius in 
1603. A natural consequence of this public ban 
would be that Bruno was no longer quoted or referred 
to as an authority ; but all thinkers of sceptical or 
liberal tendency would at least be eager to read his 
works when the opportunity offered itself. Owing to 
the great scarcity of the copies and their increasing 
costliness, this would become a chance less and less 



frequent as time went on. Even so, however, one 
may trace how his ideas filtered through many minds 
and helped to determine the course of modern philo 
sophy, of which Bruno has as high claims as either 
Bacon or Descartes to be named the founder. 

In English writers the only contemporary notices 
of Bruno which have been found are in two small 
works on mnemonics, one by a professed opponent of 
Bruno s friend, Alexander Dicson, the other by the 
poet Thomas Watson. The former, the Anti-die sonus 
of a certain Cambridge scholar, G. P., of date 1584, 
was dedicated to Thomas Moffat or Moufet, a well- 
known philosopher and doctor of medicine, from whom 
support was hoped against the " Dicson School." Ot 
this school Bruno, who was then in England, must 
have been regarded as a member. The author is a 
follower of Ramus, and ridicules the art of memory 
which consists in locis et umbris and its " self-parading 
memoriographs, such as Metrodorus, Rosselius, the 
Nolan, and Dicson ; these are the reefs and whirlpools 
in which the purer science of memory would have been 
wholly destroyed, had she not clung to her faith in the 
Rameans as a pillar of refuge." It is an interesting 
note, for it shows that Bruno s antipathy to Ramus 
was returned by Ramus followers, an antipathy so 
difficult to understand when we remember that both 
were reformers in philosophy, and that both zealously 
attacked Aristotle. The work against which G. P. 
writes is Alexander Dicson s De Umbra rationis et 
iudicii, sive de memoriae virtute Prosopopoeia, dedicated 
to the Earl of Leicester (1583). There can be no 
doubt that it is based upon Bruno s De Umbris Idearum 
(1582), with which it agrees both in substance and in 
metaphysical basis. Dicson, as already pointed out, 



was one of Bruno s mouthpieces in an Italian dialogue. 
Here at least is an avenue for influence from Bruno 
upon English thought. Unfortunately Dicson s work 
is not of great value, and, with the man himself, has 
long been forgotten. But G. P. s reliance upon 
Moffat s support to repel " the attacks of Scepsius, 1 
and the wrath and violence towards me of the whole 
school of Dicson," shows that on the side, at any rate, 
of his mnemonic doctrine Bruno s teaching had not 
fallen on wholly barren soil. Again, he is spoken of Thomas 
with respect, if not quite with admiration, in Thomas 
Watson s dedication of his Compendium Memoriae 
Localis (n. d., but probably 1585) to Henry Noel, 
Queen Elizabeth s courtier. " I very much fear if my 
little work (nugae meae) is compared with the mystical 
and deeply learned Sigilli of the Nolan, or with the 
Umbra artificiosa of Dicson, it may bring more infamy 
to its author than utility to the reader." The scholarly 
poet, terse and brilliant Latinist, could hardly have felt 
in harmony with the passionate but confused thought, 
the virile but unscholarly style of Bruno ; yet the art 
of memory he professes in this compendium is no 
other than that of Bruno and of Dicson, and the 
" Memoriographs," whom " G. P." attacks. 

If we turn to Bacon, who was in London while Bacon. 
Bruno was with Mauvissiere, already in high favour 
with the Queen, and at home in the society of 
Burghley, Leicester, Walsingham, and Sidney, we find 
entire neglect of Bruno s philosophy. Only in one 
passage, perhaps, does Bacon mention Bruno s name ; 
it is in the introduction to the Historia Naturalis et 
Experimentalist After a list of the philosophers of 

" Scepsius," behind whose authority Dicson shelters, is, according to G. P., 
Dicson himself. 2 Ellis and Spedding, ii. 13. 


Greece, and the remark that "all these made up at 
their pleasure feigned accounts (or " plots ") of worlds, 
as of fables, and recited, published these fables of 
theirs some more consistent certainly and probable, 
others harder of belief," he adds that among the 
moderns, through the instruction of schools and 
colleges, the imagination is kept within stricter bounds, 
yet men have not ceased imagining. " Patrizzi, 
Talesio, Bruno, Severin of Denmark, Gilbert of 
England, Campanella, have tried the stage, acted new 
plays which were neither marked by applauding favour 
of the public, nor by brilliancy of plot." The names 
are those of men with whom it is no shame for Bruno 
to stand side by side ; and one and all are instances of 
Bacon s incapacity for grasping the true direction in 
which the thought of his time was flowing ; but the 
mere mention of Bruno in such a context implies that 
his works were still read, and that they were estimated 
at a high value by the lovers of " philosophy." There 
are, however, many points of contact between Bacon 
and Bruno, suggesting an influence, indirect if not 
direct, of the latter upon the former. Bacon was 
perfectly at home in Italian literature, and it is unlikely 
that he omitted to read Bruno s dialogues. Two 
casual but significant proofs that he did so are, the 
legend related of Mount Athos and of Olympus, that 
men had written in the ashes of the sacrifices offered 
upon their summits, and had returned the following 
year to find the ashes and the writing undisturbed, 
the inference being that the summits of these mountains 
were in a region of perpetual calm ; l and the suggestion 

1 Hntoria ycntorum, Ellis and Spedding, ii. p. 5 1 j cf. Nov. Org. ii. 12. The 
source of the Mount Athos legend is certainly Aristotle s PrMemata (xxvi. 39), 
while that for Olympus is either Solinus, or more probably Bruno, in the Cena de le 


that the movements of the heavenly bodies may be in 
spiral lines instead of in perfect circles. 1 The latter 
especially is a characteristic thought of Bruno. 

Bacon, like Bruno, was a believer in a purified 
natural magic, the handmaid of metaphysics, " because 
of its broad ways and wider dominion over nature." 
They are united in their admiration for the Book of 
Job as a compendium of natural philosophy. Bacon 
writes that " if we take that small book of Job and 
diligently work through it, we shall find it full, and, as 
it were, pregnant with the mysteries of natural philo 
sophy." Both recur with conviction to the saying of 
Solomon that there is nothing new under the sun. 
" As to novelty, there is no one who has thoroughly 
imbibed letters and philosophy, but has had it impressed 
on his heart that there is nothing new upon the 
earth." 4 Deeper harmonies, if not more suggestive, 
exist between the two reformers of philosophy than 
these. One is the argument against authority, against 
general agreement, against antiquity of belief, as 
grounds or reasons for belief, and the special applica 
tion of this argument to undermine the hold of the 
Aristotelian philosophy upon the minds of men. " It 
is the old age of the world and the fulness of years 
that are to be regarded as its true antiquity. For that 
age, with respect to us ancient and older, with respect 
to the world itself was new and younger." "As we 

Centre (Lag. 167. 13). Bruno, on his part, refers to Alexander of Aphrodisias ; it 
is not to be found, however, in Alexander s commentary upon the Meteorologica 
(E. and S. refer to Ideler, i. 148). 

1 Nov. Org. i. aph. 45. 2 Ib. ii. 9. 

3 DC Augm. i. p. 466 ; cf. Bruno s Cena, Lag. 177. 27. Elsewhere, however, 
Bacon condemns the habit of "some of the moderns," who have attempted to base 
natural philosophy upon the first chapter of Genesis and the Book of Job, and 
other sacred scriptures. No-v. Org. i. ax. 65. 

4 De Augm. i. 479, and Bruno, passim. 


expect greater knowledge and maturer judgment from 
an old man than from a young, so from our own age 
we should expect (if it knew its strength, and were 
willing to make trial and to put it forth) far greater 
things than from old times," etc. 1 So faith and 
religion are to be kept apart from investigation, science, 
or philosophy, although the latter does not on that 
account carry us away from God ; the one shows the 
will, the other (natural philosophy) the power of God. 2 
To faith are to be given the things that are of faith, to 
philosophy the things that are of philosophy. 3 It was 
on the same ground also the use of other than natural 
principles to explain natural phenomena that both 
Bruno and Bacon condemned the physical works of 
Aristotle. He " corrupted natural philosophy with his 
dialectics gave the human soul, the noblest of sub 
stances, a genus from words of second intention ; 
settled the business of the dense and the rare, through 
which bodies occupy greater or less dimensions or 
spaces, by the feigned distinction between act and 
potency ; asserted a unique and proper movement of 
each body, being more concerned for an answer one 
might make in a discussion and to have something 
positive in words, than for the inward truth of things, 
as is best shown by a comparison of his philosophy 
with the others celebrated among the Greeks." And 
Bacon, like Bruno and other innovators of the day, 
goes back to Anaxagoras, Leucippus and Democritus, 
Parmenides, Empedocles, Heraclitus, whose principles 
" have something of natural philosophy, and savour of 

1 Nov. Org. \. ax. 84 ; cf. 77 (the argument ex consensu), and De Augm. i. p. 458. 
In their note E. and S. refer to Esdras, c. 14, v. 10 : "the world has lost its youth, 
and the times begin to wax old"; and to Casmann s PrMcmata Marina (1596), as 
well as to Bruno s Cena (1584). 

2 AW. Org. i. 89. 3 Ib. i. 65. 



the nature of things experience, bodily existence, 
whereas the physics of Aristotle, for the most part, 
sound of nothing but dialectical terms." 

The false straining after simplicity of explanation, Method. 
the tendency to seek for similarities rather than differ 
ences, to expect order on the surface rather than at the 
root of things, is condemned as vigorously by Bruno as 
by Bacon, although not placed in the forefront of the 
theory of method, as it is by the latter writer. One 
of the Idols of the Tribe was " the tendency to sup 
pose greater order and equality in things than is 
actually to be found ; although in nature many things 
are monadic a (i.e. monadica, unique), and full of imparity, 
yet the mind feigns parallels, correspondences, relations 
which are not. Hence the erroneous idea, e.g. that in 
the heavens all things move in perfect circles, rejecting 
utterly spiral lines and dracones (except for the name) : 
hence the element of fire and its sphere were intro 
duced to constitute a quaternio with the other three that 
were actually perceived by sense," etc. 2 These things 
were condemned also, and for the same reason, by 
Bruno, who, however, went further, and insisted on the 
uniqueness of every individual existence in the universe. 
Again Bacon retained (without, however, giving it a 
place in his philosophy) the scholastic distinction between 
divine or angelic, intuitive, knowledge, and the acquired 
piecemeal knowledge of man. " God, the inditer and 
worker of forms, and perhaps angels and (higher) intel 
ligences, know forms immediately by affirmation, and 
from the beginning of their contemplation. But that 
is certainly above men to whom it is conceded only to 
advance in the beginning by negatives, to come to rest 
in the last place only, in affirmatives, after exclusion of 

1 No-u. Org. i. 63 ; cf. also 71. Ib. i. 45- 



every kind." In Bruno the same distinction is drawn, 
but it is made also within human knowledge, the intui 
tive knowledge of the heroic mind being the same 
in kind as that of the higher intelligences, and only 
different from that of God in that it does not create 
what it intuites. So the scholastic distinction of natura 
naturans as the form or immanent principle of things, 
and natura naturata as the sum of things actually 
existing, the outward expression in matter of the activity 
of the form a distinction which, in Bruno, is tran 
scended by the identification of one with the other, as 
two aspects of a higher unity also reappears in Bacon s 
theory of form. However different the "form" of 
Bacon may have seemed to himself from the scholastic 
" form," it is still the immanent cause of the properties 
of the body to which it belongs, or in which it adheres, 
and as such is actually named by Bacon the natura 
naturans:- So with Bacon, as with Bruno, Campanella, 
and Telesius, all things are endowed with life, with 
sensation, with soul, which is the inward principle of 
their external movements. He ridiculed Gilbert, who 
first suggested a scientific explanation of magnetism 
and electricity, and put forward on his own account as 
a theory of electrical attraction that " friction excites 
the appetite of bodies for contact, which appetite does 
not like air much, but prefers something else which is 
tangible." The phenomena of chemical affinity and 
the like were also explained, precisely as Campanella 
or Cardan would account for them, by the delight in 
mutual contact, i.e. by an inherent sensibility, and desire 
or striving of like towards like. 3 In both Bacon and 

Nm>. Org. ii. 15. It was a scholastic distinction; E. and S. illustrate it from 
Thomas Aquinas Summa T/ieo/ogiae, I ma , q. 45 (E. and S. i. p. 259). 

2 Ib. ii. i. 

3 E.g. ib. i. 66, where are added "the appetite a thing has to return to its 



Bruno, also, this universal animism is combined with an 
atomistic theory of mechanical nature, and with the 
belief that no physical phenomenon is understood until 
it can be expressed in mathematical terms : " the more 
our inquiry inclines to simple natures, the plainer and 
clearer shall things become ; for we shall have to deal 
with the simple instead of the manifold, the computable 
instead of the surd, the definite and certain instead of 
the vague, as in the elements of letters, and the notes 
of harmonies, and an inquiry is best conducted when 
the physical is denned by the mathematical." The 
last result of analysis is not, with either Bacon or Bruno, 
the atom of the Epicurean physics, viz. an immutable 
substance floating in empty space ; but Bacon s particulae 
verae are much more confusedly thought out than the 
Italian s theory of a subtle ethereal matter diffused 
throughout the universe, and of the denser atoms which 
are in constant motion within it. There is, however, 
the same perpetual flux and reflux in matter with Bacon 
as with Bruno. 2 In the last resort, Bacon took refuge 
in a hope of future explanation always, however, 
by simple, positive, computable factors regarding 
atoms and void, as on a par with materia prima, human 
abstractions, entirely unfruitful, not light -bringing 
anticipations of nature." In regard to the relation 
between the human understanding and nature, both had 
absolute convictions of the power of the former, directed 
by the rules of experience and limited by the data of 

natural dimension or extension (viz. Elasticity), the appetite to conjugate with 
masses of its own kind, as the dense to the sphere of the earth, the rare to the sphere 
of the skv." These are described as really "physical" kinds of motion, not, as 
Aristotle s are, "logical" and scholastical." Cf. the Natural History, E. am, 
ii. 600, 602 ; and Bruno, supra. 

* Kd e Boon s Essay on the Vicissitude of Things ; ami for his Atomism, the 
Historia Denst et Ran (E. and S. vol. ii.), and Cog,,, de Datura Rerw {A. vol. HI.). 



sensation, to comprehend the latter ; but while Bruno 
saw in the negative limits of the understanding a posi 
tive hint of a reality beyond, the more careful Bacon 
saw only a further ground for falling back from reason 
upon faith. Thus the incapacity of the mind to rest 
in any finite space, without thinking of a space beyond 
that and beyond, or of imagining a body than which 
none could be greater, was proof to Bruno that space 
itself was infinite, and that body or matter was immea 
surable, i.e. infinite in extent and in quantity. Bacon 
also makes use of this impossibility in the human in 
tellect of resting, acquiescing, at any point as a finality. 
" It must ever pass beyond but it is in vain. Thus it 
is unthinkable that there should be any extreme or 
outermost rim to the world, our mind always of neces 
sity thinks there may be something beyond : nor can 
we think how eternity could have flowed down to this 
day : the distinction between an infinity a parle ante 
and an infinity a parte post cannot be maintained, for it 
would follow that one infinite is greater than another, 
and that an infinite is used up, and declines into a finite. 
Similar is the subtlety about lines always divisible (how 
ever small parts we take), from the impotency of 
thought." But the conclusion drawn is simply the 
positivist one, that such endless questioning after the 
unknowable is profitless and absurd. The one sees in 
it a metaphysical or cosmological argument infinite 
capacity for knowing implies an infinite to be known, 
as infinite or endless desire implies an infinite or limit 
less good : the other a methodological argument against 
attempting to fly when we are born to creep. In two 
other cases Bacon rejected the work of Bruno, and 
rightly, viz. in regard to the Art of Lully, and the 

1 No-v. Org. i. 48. 


Art of Memory ; and it is possible that he may have 
had Bruno in his mind in writing both passages. Some 
men, rather ostentatious than learned, have laboured 
about a certain method not deserving the name of a 
true method, as being rather a kind of imposture, 
which may nevertheless have proved acceptable to some 
triflers. Such was the Art of Lully, simply a massed 
collection of technical terms. This kind of collection 
resembles an old broker s shop, where many fragments 
of things are to be found, but nothing of any value." 
Again, "there exists certainly some kind of art (of 
memory), but we are convinced that better precepts for 
confirming and extending the memory might be laid 
down than are contained in this art, and also that the 
practice of the art might be made better than as it has 
been received. As now managed, it is but barren and 

useless." 2 

On the Continent it was rather the cosmological 
theories of Bruno that attracted attention ; and there, 
no less than in England, every suspicion of sympathy 
with the heretic was avoided. Only Kepler had the Kepler 
courage to complain (as a letter of Martin Hasdal to 
Galilei tells) that Galilei had omitted to make praiseful 
mention of Bruno in his Nuntius Sidereus? Galilei, a 
thorough diplomatist, would hardly have gone so far : 4 
yet in the metaphysical basis of his theory of the 
universe, and in his theory of knowledge, he only 
elaborates ideas already suggested by Bruno. 5 But 
Kepler, fearless before men, shrank from the thought of 
the infinite world in which Bruno found a glorious 

i Dt Augm. vi. ch. 2. 2 Ib. v. ch. 5. 3 Bcrti, Vita di G. B. p. 9. 

* Vide Cay von Brockdorff, Galilei s Phllosophhche Mission (Vierteljahrschrift fur 
Wiss. Philos. und Sociol., 1902). 

5 Vide the Discorsi : and cf. the truculent Brunnhoter : " Galileo, der Bruno 

Zugleich jusicutfte ur.d ignoring" (of. cit., p. 69). 





freedom for the play of his mind. Kepler could not, 
and did not, give up his enclosing sphere of fixed stars 
shutting in the solar system as comfortably as the 
orange-skin its seeds, not accepting the giddy hypothesis 
of Bruno that each of the stars is itself a" sun, with a 
solar system of its own, and that beyond and beyond, 
in endless series, are other suns and other worlds. 1 

Even Vanini the unfortunate, if light-headed, sceptic, 
vho in 1619, at Toulouse, met with a fate similar to 
that of Bruno, but more horrible, mentions the latter 
only by indication in his earlier work, the Amphi 
theatre of the Eternal Providence (p. 359) Nonnulli 

semiphilosophi novi have said that beyond the last sphere 
of the heavens there is an infinite created universe, as if 
from God no finite action could proceed." - 

Of the philosophers who represent the main line of 
development of modern thought on the Continent in 
the seventeenth century, Descartes, Gassendi, Spinoza, 
Leibniz, there is not one who has not been accused of 
having borrowed his chief doctrines, without ac 
knowledgment, from the Italian philosopher. Bishop 
Huet 3 described Bruno as the antesignanus of the 
Cartesian philosophy, and pointed to the De Immenso et 
innumerabilibus as containing indications of almost all its 
ideas. The charge is of course absurd so far as 

Descartes characteristic philosophy is concerned the 

ideas by which he created a revolution in modern 

1 Vide Sigwart, K.dnc Schriftcn, vol. i., on Kepler : he refers to Opera, i. p. 688 
and vi. p. i ^6. 

* Ficrentino, in Bruno, Of. La!., vol. i. p. xix. The full title of Vanini s work is, 
" Amphitheatrum aeternae providentiae divino-magicum, christiano-physicum, necnon 
astrologo-catholicum, ad versus veteres philosophos, Atheos, Epicureos, Peripateticos 
et Stoicos. Auctore Julio Caesare Vanino, Philosopho, Theologo, ae Juris utriusque 
Doctor. Lugduni, 1615." With his remark compare Campanella, Suidan, NoLnu* 
(Metaphys. ii. i. 5). 

3 Ce . sura P/iiloiophiae, 1689. 


thought. Bruno indeed begged men to throw over all 
prejudices, all traditional beliefs, before entering upon 
the study of nature : he agreed with Descartes there 
fore in rejecting wholly every authority but that of 
man s own reason, in demanding complete freedom of 
thought, not only from outward, but also from inward, 
subjective fetters. Most nearly he approaches the 
" Cartesian doubt " in the preface to the Articuli 
ad\}. Mathematicos. 1 " As to the liberal arts, so far from 
me is the custom or institution of believing masters or 
parents, or even the common sense which (by its own 
account) often and in many ways is proved to deceive 
us and lead us astray, that I never settle anything in 
philosophy rashly or without reason ; but what is 
thought perfectly certain and evident, whenever and 
wherever it has been brought into controversy, is as 
doubtful to me as things that are thought too difficult 
of belief, or too absurd." But this is still very far from 
the universal doubt of Descartes, doubt, not of this 
or that particular opinion or belief, but of all possible 
beliefs. Bruno s aim was knowledge, to add to or correct 
the sum of general opinion as to the world as a whole, 
as to man s relation to it and to God ; Descartes was 
certainty, to find a basis from which a system of thought 
might be built up de novo, and from which at the same 
time a secure ground for morality and religion might be 
derived. The doubt was nothing without the certainty 
to which it led, the certainty of self-consciousness, 
which, as it has been said, is only the other side, the 
positive expression of the universal doubt itself. On 
the other hand, in the subsequent steps of the Cartesian 
philosophy, the arguments on the nature of God, and 
the relation of the infinite to the finite substances, many 

1 Op. Lat. i. ;. 4. 



touches suggest the influence of Bruno s comprehensive 
attempt to combine a philosophical pantheism with a 
scientific atomism. It is unlikely that Descartes should 
have been ignorant of a writer well known to Mersenne 
and Huet. The former l would have excused Bruno 
" had he been content to philosophise upon a point, 
an atom, or on unity, but because he attacked the 
Christian religion, it is reasonable to decry him as one 
of the most wicked men the earth has ever produced ! " 
Certainly the fact that Descartes nowhere mentions the 
guilty philosopher is of no importance in deciding as to 
the influence of the latter upon him. J 

i t was on |y na t ura l that Gassendi s critics should 
have placed him in a close relation to the Nolan. There 
is no improbability in the idea that Gassendi was 
attracted to the latter as an opponent of the Aristotelian 
philosophy, against which he himself had already written 
in his youth although no part of the work was 
published until i624. 3 Both also approached the reform 
of natural philosophy from the same standpoint, that of 
sense-experience, and both arrived at an atomic theory 
of the ultimate constitution of nature. Bruno, before 
Gassendi, had attempted to place the ethical teaching of 
Epicurus in a fairer light than popular prejudice allowed, 
but while Gassendi followed Epicurus in his atomism 
only too strictly, Bruno was much more independent, 
and advanced much nearer to the modern view. So in 
his general theory of the system of the world, Gassendi 
stops half-way with the conception of a limited matter, 
but in an endless space, of a beginning for the world, 

1 Contre I impiete des de sistes, athe es et libertins de ce temps (1624., p. 229, 234, etc.). 

2 Vide Bartholmess, i. pp. 257, 259. Descartes, like Galilei, was careful not to 
prejudice himself in the eyes of the Church. For Gassendi, i/. Gentzken, Hist. Phil., 
p. 154. 

3 Exercitatienes paradoxicae adversus Slnstoteleos. 


but in an endless time, of a plurality of worlds with the 
earth as centre of our system : here also it is Bruno that 
is the more advanced, and the more daring thinker ; 
yet, from the respect with which Gassendi writes/ of 
Copernicus, it is clear that his sympathies were with the 
new hypothesis. It may be added that although 
Gassendi rejected the notion of a world-soul, in the 
ordinary sense, as distinct from God, and that of souls 
of the individual worlds, or of stones, etc., yet he too 
was fain to explain the attraction of the magnet for the 
iron, of the earth for the stone, of atom for atom, by an 
influence passing from the one to the other, by which 
the one became aware of the other s existence, and was 
impelled towards it, i.e. by a kind of sense, or feeling, 
a soul, which was at the same time the principle of 

It is, however, on the development of Spinoza s l Spinoza 
thought that the most direct influence of Bruno can be 
shown. Sigwart 2 and Avenarius 3 have proved that in 
preparing the short treatise on " God, Man, and his 
Blessedness," Spinoza must have had the Causa and 
Infinite of Bruno almost before his eyes. The treatise 
consists of several parts which are more or less in 
dependent of one another, and which represent tentative 
approaches towards the finished Ethics ; but it differs 
from the Ethics in the far greater prominence of the 
mystical, Neoplatonist element. Pollock suggests that 

1 Cf. Brunnhofer, p. xix : "The longer I consider the question, the more probable 
it appears to me that Spinoza would have been impossible, historically, if Bruno had 
had time to develop the rich fulness of his ideas in a systematic form." Cf. p. 81, 
where, however, he lays too much stress on verbal analogies between Bruno s Summa 
and the Ethica of Spinoza. 

2 Spinoza s Neuentdeckter Tractat -von Gott, dim Menschen, und dessen Gliickseligkeit, 
Gotha, 1866, and his translation of this, Kurzer Tractat, with introduction and 
notes. Tubingen, 1870. 

3 Die Beiden Ersten Phasen des Sfino-zisc/ten Leipzig, 1868. 



it may have been his free-thinking teacher Dr. Van den 
Ende who introduced Spinoza to Bruno s writings : 
there is no external evidence of the acquaintanceship, 
but that, it is needless to say, is of slight importance. 
Spinoza certainly read Italian, and he practised in 
other cases the same neglect of authorities, of whose 
substance he was making use : it was indeed the 
custom of the time there were few who followed 
Burton s example. 

There are certain general resemblances between the 
finished philosophies of the two authors, so far as Bruno 
can be said to have a finished philosophy. The first 
principle of both is the unity out of which all things 
spring, to which all return, and in which all have their 
true nature, or highest reality,- a unity with which both 
identify nature and spirit alike, and which is for both 
God. God is accordingly beyond the reach of all 
human knowledge ; determination is negation, limit, by 
which the infinite is untouched. All attributes in God 
are one only, or none ; thought is one with extension, 
love with intelligence ; yet in strictness God is neither 
thought nor extension, intelligence nor love, or he is 
these in another than our human meaning. So far as 
this central thought is concerned, it is Bruno that is the 
i deeper thinker. In him the One is not a dead negation, 
in which real things are absorbed to the loss of all their 
reality and life, as it is with Spinoza : rather it is a 
living fountain, o-ushino- forth in the infinite streams of 

o ? o o 

living beings : the whole of nature is the expression 
of its own inward being. The One is in_process ; the 
whole, in which this process results, is a harmony every 
member of which has its own independent reality and 
worth, over against all others, as a manifestation of 
divinity. The life of the one is that of its members ; all 


are necessary to it, as it to them. Carriere 1 indeed 
places Bruno above Spinoza as having found in the one 
a self-consciousness, a subject infinite in that it knows 
itself and all things in itself, preserving all things, as 
necessary to its external enjoyment and love ; while 
Spinoza is still within the bonds of substance in God 
there is neither understanding nor will, in Him all 
difference vanishes, the modes are an illusion. So the 
Spinozistic parallelism between thought and matter 
finds its counterpart in Bruno, with whom all that is 
thought, all that is possible, is also real, or actual, i.e. 
has extended or material existence. It is true that this 
conception is much more precisely expressed in Spinoza, 
with his clean-cut distinction between the world of 
body and the world of mind or ideas, to which the 
possible belongs, but it was a distinction which he could 
not consistently uphold ; on the other hand, the uni 
versal animism, the doctrine that to every material 
thing or event there corresponds a spiritual reality or 
process, which is only the other side of the parallelism 
of soul and body, is more clearly and vigorously 
defended by the earlier philosopher. The natural and 
the spiritual, matter and form, are not two principles, 
or elements which combine to produce a given result, 
or which harmonise with one another : they are one 
and the same thing, and their truth is their life, their 
soul, their thought. Bruno was in earnest with his 
animism, as his confident belief in magical correlations 
showed. 2 

From their principles both derived a conviction of 
the necessity 3 and of the goodness of all things, but it 

1 Moritz Carriere, Weltanschauung dcr Reformationszeit, p. 470. *J 

- Cf. Tocco, Confereixa, p. I 5 ; Sigwart, Neuentdeckter Tractat, pp. 110-113. 

3 E.g. Bruno s Acru. (Of. Lai. i. i. ic8). 



is Bruno rather than Spinoza who attempted to recon 
cile individual liberty with determinism in the uni 
verse as a whole, and individual moral responsibility 
with the necessary goodness of the all. The corre 
sponding relativity of evil, the fallacy of "fortune" or 
" chance " (as anything but " uncertainty " of the finite 
mind), were already asserted by Bruno, and his ideas 
as to the relation between the religion of the Church, 
or the teaching of the Bible, and the investiga 
tions of science, are precisely those which Spinoza 

The short In the De Deo seu Homine, however, the corre 
spondences are much greater and more definite between 
Spinoza and Bruno, showing that the former passed 
through a phase of Neoplatonism, in which his pan 
theism was much less formal or abstract than it after 
wards became. Thus the predicates applied in the 
Ethics to God are applied here to nature, as by Bruno 
also : Nature is infinite in the sense of " without limits 
or bounds," containing no parts in itself, and therefore 
not a whole over against other wholes ; there cannot be 
two infinites, or boundless worlds. 1 The parallelism 
between outward nature and the thought or under 
standing of God is also more after Bruno s mode of 
expression (ch. ii. 11, 19). "Neither substance nor 
qualities can be in the infinite understanding of God, 
which are \\otformaliter in nature (i) because of the 
infinite power of God there is no cause or ground 
in Him why He should create one thing rather than 
another, hence He creates all ; (2) because of the 
simplicity of His will ; (3) because He cannot refrain 
from doing what is good." The thesis, and the first 

1 Skcrt Tractate, ch. i. 9, and Bruno s Causa, Dial. v. Sigwart, b\ue;it. Tract., 
pp. 115, 1 1 6. 


and third of the arguments by which it is supported, 
are all verbally close to Bruno s argument in the Infinite 
and in the De Immense. So the effort of all finite 
things after self-conservation, 1 and their consequent 
movement, are explained not mechanically, through the 
action of one material thing upon another, but rather 
spiritually, through the unity of nature in which all 
share. Thus even that possibility of an action of thought 
upon matter (extension) is allowed, which in the Ethics 
is, formally at least, denied. In the Tractate also 
there is more emphasis laid upon the goodness of God, 
as the source of the infinite world of finite beings, 
whereas in the Ethics a logical, mechanical necessity 
takes its place. It is in the second, more mystical and 
ethical part, of the treatise, however, that the influence 
of the Nolan philosopher is most apparent, and here it 
is the Summa Terminorum or Heroici Furori that seems 
to have formed the direct or indirect source of many of 
the conceptions such, for example, as the distinction 
between Ratio and Intellects. Ratio is discursive Ratio. 
thought, building up knowledge by successive steps ; 
Intellects " intuitive thought/ direct and simultaneous 
perception of the whole of the object the only ade 
quate or complete form of knowledge, for which 
reasoning is merely a preparation in us. Our know 
ledge of God, so far as it is possible at all, is of the 
second type : we cannot know Him as he is, through 
His effects, His creation : it is only the few to whom He 
reveals Himself that can know Him as He is, by direct 
contact with Him. Yet this revelation is constantly 
open to all men ; for each and all God is, always, inti- 

1 " // deslo di conservani " of Bruno. Pollock (ty; ;;c2w, p. 109) refers to Descartes, 
Pnti. Phil. 2, chs. 37 and 43, and Spinoza s Cog. Met. (pt. i. ch. 6, 9), where the 
"effort " is "the thing itself," whereas in the essay it is providence, i.e. God. Cf. 
part i., ch. 5, with Ethica, iii. 6 and 7. 


mately present, " more intimately than each is to him 
self." Other ideas which Sigvvart has found common 
to the Short Tractate and the writings of Bruno, are 
those of the Love of God as springing from the know 
ledge of God ; the correspondence between the degrees 
or stages of love and those of knowledge ; the inability 
of our minds to rest in a finite object or finite good, 
the constant pressure onwards towards other and other 
objects ; the contrast between sensible love and intellect 
ual love ; God as the highest, most complete object, the 
knowledge of Him above and embracing in itself all other 
knowledge, making the knower one with his object, 
transforming him into God himself; the divine Harmony 
in the soul which ensues ; the love of God which is 
man s highest blessedness, which is wholly disinterested, 
and blind to all earthly good or beautiful things ; love 
which is unlimited in its possibility, as its object is 
infinite : with this limitless possibility of Love is the 
idea of immortality connected ; but " Bruno deduces 
from the immortality of man the possibility of a love 
which increases infinitely ; while for Spinoza, on the 
contrary, the infinitely increasing love of God is a 
ground of proof for immortality." When there is 
added to these many instances of doctrines in Spinoza s 
earlier work which were later modified in the direction 
of greater rigidity and mechanical systematisation, the 
fact that the Tractate embraces two tentative dialogues, 
in one of which Spinoza is represented by a Theophilus 
(as Bruno in so many of his dialogues is represented), 
it is impossible not to feel convinced that Spinoza for a 
period of his life at least was a follower of Bruno. It 
is true that many of these ideas are not the property of 
Bruno alone, but of the school of Neoplatonism of 

1 Sigwart, Neuent. Tract., pp. 120-124. 2 M- ? I2 9- 


which he like Spinoza was at any rate a partial adherent, 
but nowhere else than in Bruno is to be found the same 
" collocation " of these ideas as occur in this tractate of 
Spinoza. It is an open question whether the movement 
of the latter away from the Italian s philosophy was 
entirely a progressive, and not in some respects a retro 
grade movement. 

At first sight it might seem much more natural to Leibniz. 
connect Leibniz with Bruno, because of the obvious 
correspondence of many of their fundamental ideas : 
their analysis of the universe into a system of inde 
pendent realities, each differing from every other each 
mirroring the universe in itself from its own individual 
point of view ; each therefore in a sense containing or 
comprising the all in itself, as each is again a necessary 
constituent of the all. In place of Spinoza s dead 
world, we find in Leibniz, as in Bruno, finite things in 
constant flow, constant change, each passing necessarily 
through every phase through which any other has 
passed representing the universe as it is in time, as 
well as the universe as it is at any moment in actual 
existence ; each experiencing, in other words, the life, 
the process, as well as the quality, the being of the all. 
Everything that is, is necessarily, everything that occurs, 
occurs necessarily, in Bruno because the whole flows 
out from the thought of God, as God thinks it (i.e. in 
the relations in which it stands in the one all-embracing 
thought of God) ; in Leibniz, because of the will of 
God, who in His goodness has chosen the best of all 
ideal systems, within which each thing or event has its 
necessary place. In both, all things are, from the point 
of view of the whole, good : in Bruno because in God 
truth and goodness, will and understanding, are one ; 
in Leibniz because of the will of God, which has chosen 


for the best : evil is finitude, or again is ignorance, an 
error of standpoint. In both freedom and necessity 
are one, because the necessity belongs to God s own 
nature ; He wills out of Himself, undetermined, unin 
fluenced from without, and this is freedom. In both, 
as we have seen, the principle of sufficient reason is a 
ground both for the infinite number and infinite 
variety of the finite beings in the universe, and for the 
impossibility that two should exist which are exactly 
identical one with another. Were it known that 
Leibniz had studied Bruno before his system was 
formed, we might almost say that he had chosen that 
aspect of the Nolan philosophy which with Spinoza had 
been disregarded, viz. the aspect in which all rights 
are given to the finite individual, and to the world of 
finite beings, as each representing the infinite, contain 
ing the infinite in itself, and, so far as possibility goes, 
each of infinite divine worth. Whereas just that side 
which appealed to Spinoza would have failed to touch 
Leibniz the side in which God appears as one with 
the universe, not as beyond or outside of it, but as 
immanent in the whole, and present in the fulness of 
tiis nature to each and every member of the whole. 
Philosophically Leibniz mission was to develop the 
Cartesian doctrine of the three substances God, 
finite spirit, and body in a direction which identi 
fied the first and third with the second, broke up the 
unity of God into the immeasurable many of the 
monad spirits, and its infinity into indefiniteness. The 
God of Leibniz, even as the highest of the monads, is 
separate from, apart from, the other monads a finite 
along with other finites. So each of the ordinary 
monads is a world by itself, shut up within itself, with 
no windows from which it can look out upon the world, 


and really be affected by what is passing without it. 
There is no without each is, in a word, God, and so far 
as it is concerned there may be no other being in 
existence. Bruno, on the contrary, was fully conscious 
at times of the necessity of holding the balance 
between the infinite unity of God and the finite units or 
realities, which are the expression, the manifestation, 
the self-revelation of the one. Why this revelation ? 
he does not indeed ask ; but given it as actual, he finds 
the reconciliation in it at once of the necessity of the 
whole and the liberty of the unit, the goodness of the 
all and the moral frailty of the individual. 1 

Interesting as this speculative comparison of the two 
philosophies may be, there is not, however, even the 
slightest ground for attributing any direct historical 
influence of Bruno upon Leibniz. If influence occurred 
at all which is doubtful it was through Spinoza or 
some of the minor philosophical writings of the time. 
Lacroze (in a letter of 1737) accused Leibniz of 
" having drawn his whole system " from Bruno s book 
De Maximo et Minima (sic /) : he added that he had 
told Leibniz this fact himself, both by word of mouth 
and in writing, and that the reason why so few had 
noticed it was that the philosophical writings of Bruno 
were obscure and repellent. The same suggestion has 
been repeatedly made since more especially as regards 
the name " Monad" which Leibniz, after much search 
ing and deliberation, gave to his "real unities" from 
1696 onwards. 2 Brunnhofer goes so far as to see both 
the ideas and the main formulas of Leibniz in Bruno 

1 Cf. Carricre. Op. cit. p. 471 ft". 

2 Thesauri Efisttlici la Croziatii, 1746 ; Hansch, Prin. PAilos. Lcibn., 1728 ; Thes. 
ix., xxxi., Ixxi. Cf. Steffens, Clemens, Diihring, Brunnhofer, of. fit., and also in 
G.B. s Lehre -vom Kleinsten, ah die Quelle der ^.ra-eitablirten Harmonic von Leibniz, 
1890 ; also Tocco, etc. 


the monad-doctrines, monads as living mirrors of the 

universe, as figurations of God, the Pre-established 

Harmony the future as involved in the present, " the 

present is pregnant with the future," the phenomen- 

ality of sense-objects God as the highest monad, etc. 

He argues that Leibniz derived his idea that "the 

monads have no windows by which anything can enter 

or depart " from casual remarks by Bruno as to the 

"windows of the soul, 1 "the gates of the senses" by 

which images enter in, or "the chinks and holes" by 

which we gaze outwards upon the world. The coup 

de grace was given to this legend, for so we must call it, 

by Ludwig Stein in his Leibniz und Spinoza} He 

showed that Leibniz was already in full possession of 

the idea ot the monad at least ten years before he found 

the most fitting expression for it, and that after 1696 

he used the word " Monad " always as the distinctive 

badge or typical name for his substances or forces ; 

that before 1700 he knew of Bruno only one of the 

Lullian works (the De Arte Combinatorid, v. Dutens, 

li. 367), and perhaps the mathematical articles (adv. 

Mathemalicos, ib. iii. 147). Apart from these works, 

which could have no reference to his own philosophy, 

he was acquainted with Bruno only by hearsay, as a 

reputed forerunner of Descartes ; even as librarian of 

the Brunswick Library, although some of Bruno s 

works were in his guardianship, he is not likely to have 

read them until his attention was called to them by 

their alleged resemblance to his own theory. And 

then, as we learn from the letter to Lacroze (nth 

April 1708)," he hardly appreciated them at their true 

1 Em Beltrag zur Entiuickclungsgeschlchte der Leihni-zschen P/iilosopliie (1890), v. 
pp. 197 ff. 

2 In Dutens, v. 492 j cf. also a letter of ist May (p. 493). 


value " Mr. Toland has not spoken to me of the 
Specchio (i.e. Spaccio, an error that does not show much 
familiarity with Bruno) della Eestia trionfante ot 
Giordano Bruno. I think I have seen the book at 
some time, and that it is against the Pope. I have two 
works of his on the Infinite, one in Latin, the other in 
Italian. The author is not wanting in genius, but is 
not very profound (ne manque pas d esprit, mals il n est 
pas trop profond)" Elsewhere he speaks of Bruno 
only as believing in " innumerable worlds " with 
Leucippus and Democritus, and as having been burnt, 
not, as he believes, on account of his book the De 
Immenso, but for other opinions. 1 

There is therefore little reason to suppose that 
Leibniz had great interest in Bruno, or that he had 
read his works so carefully as to have derived any 
sustenance or advancement for his philosophy from 
them. Stein has in any case shown that the term 
" Monad " came to Leibniz, not from Bruno at all, but 
from the younger Van Helmont, in whose theory it 
plays almost as important a part as in Leibniz 
although the difference between the two u Monads " 


was greater than the resemblance. 2 

Meanwhile literature in France and England had 
not lost sight of Bruno. 3 In 1633 there was published 
in the former a play, Boniface et le Pedant, which 

1 In Dutens, v. 385 (June 1712), and v. 369. 

" It appears that the term Manas Monadum used by Bruno of God does not occur 
in Leibniz at all. 

3 In Burton s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) appears with Copernicus as 
author of "some prodigious tenent or paradox of the earth s motion, of infinite 
worlds in an infinite waste " (vol. i. p. 1 1 of Shilteto s edition). In the " Digression 
on Air," the Cena is referred to (ii. p. 46), the changes of sea and land, the fixed 
stars as suns with planets about them, the air of the heavens as identical with that 
of the earth, the infinite worlds in an infinite ether (ii>. 47, 57, 62). Bruno, infelix 
Brunus as Kepler had called him, is classed with atheistical writers in a later part of 
the work (vol. iii. p. 447). 


has been described as a refined and Gallicised imitation 
of the Candelaio ; in its turn it suggested, perhaps, the 
Pedant Jouc< of Cyrano de Bergerac, and some of the 
pedant-scenes in Moliere. 1 In 1634 in England a 

masque by Thomas Carew the Coelum Eritannicum 

was played in English by Charles I., which was based, 
partly at least, upon the Spaccio, with Charles I. in the 
place of Truth. - 

ayic. Pierre Bayle, by the article in his Dictionnaire 

Historique et Critique (1697), which had a very wide 
influence, probably damned Bruno s reputation for a 
century. The article on Spinoza also did the same 
service for the Dutch philosopher, with whom, indeed, 
Bayle joined Bruno, as having held the same " abomi 
nable docrine " of atheism. He had no real knowledge 
of Bruno, the biography is frivolous and inexact, and 
the philosophy a garbled version is reported on 
hearsay. 3 It was Bayle s authority which stamped 
Bruno with the sarcastic description of "a knight 
errant in philosophy," which has sometimes been 
spoken of as a happy touch of Hegel s invention, but 
really dates back to one Lionardo Nicodemo (1683), 
who described Bruno as " playing the part of a wan 
dering knight (i.e. a travelling scholastic), now here, 
now there, at different universities in France, England, 
Germany, Switzerland, Italy, with shield pendant, and 
lance in rest, challenging the Aristotelians to learned 
combat." In England the same aspersion upon 
Bruno s name was stereotyped by an article in the 

udgeii. Spectator of May 27, 1712 (one of Budgell s). The 
writer, however, had the fairness, which Bayle had not, 

1 Bartholmess, i. pp. 261, 262. 

Vide Quarterly Re-vic<w, October 1902 : "Giordano Bruno in England," and 
the biography of Carew in Encycl. Britan. (by R. Adamson). 

3 Cf. Bartholmess, i. p. 263. < Vide Rixner und Siber, of. at. heft v. p. 234. 



to read Bruno s Spaccio before making reflections upon 
it. Contrary to his expectations, for Bruno was " a 
professed atheist, with a design to depreciate religion," 
he found " very little danger " in it. This did not 
prevent him from taking Bruno as a text for a 
would-be humorous disquisition on Atheism. It was 
John Toland, 1 the "poor denizen of Grub Street," and 
once famous, or infamous, author of Christianity not 
Mysterious, who in England first paid Bruno some 
thing of the respect he deserved. His championship 
was not, perhaps, of the most discerning or of the most 
valuable, but it was honest. A copy of the Spaccio had 
come into his possession, one which he believed to be 
the only one then in existence, and as a result of his 
reading he claimed Bruno as the founder of free thought. 
He had studied the sayings on Divine Magic in that 
work, and had fastened on the fact that Bruno " re 
garded magic as nothing but a more recondite, non- 
vulgar, although perfectly natural wisdom." This was 
certainly true; but Toland added, "So he sometimes 
calls the eternal vicissitude of material forms Trans 
migration," which was at least misleading. Among 
his manuscripts Toland left " an account of Giordano 
Bruno s Book of the Universe " (De I 1 Infinite}, along 
with a translation of the introductory epistle. 2 And 
somewhat earlier, in 1713, a translation of the Spaccio 
was made into English by W. Morehead, 3 who may 
have been one of Toland s brethren, as the Quarterly 
Reviewer suggests. Toland himself was, however, 

1 Janius Junius Toland (1669-1722) ; -v. Leslie Stephen s English Thought, etc., 
vol. i. ch. 3. 

2 Vide Collection of several pieces of Mr. John Toland, -wi. A some memoirs of his life 
and -writings, London (1726), vol. i. 

3 According to the British Museum Catalogue. No name is on the title page of the 
work" Spaccio, etc., or the Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast." To the chequered 


believed to be the author. He had visited Lacroze 
at Berlin in 1706, and had defended the Nolan against 
that virulent searcher-out of atheists, deists, pantheists, 
and the like " miscreants and libertines." To a fellow- 
enthusiast in Germany (Baron Hohendorf) Toland 
wrote three years later, giving the proofs of Bruno s 
punishment, with a translation of Schopp s account, and 
stating his belief as to Bruno s real doctrine (viz. free- 
thinking). 1 The author," he wrote, " gives full play 
to his spirit, which is always diverting, but at the same 
time very powerful ; he is often diffuse, but never 
wearisome. In a very small space he has expounded 
a complete system of natural religion, the theory of 
ancient cosmography, history, comparison and refutation 
of different opinions, besides many curious observations 
on diverse subjects. But the author abounds in pleasan 
tries, and in satirical traits : he is impious in a sovereign 
degree, and does not always keep himself within the 
limits of allegory." And so Bruno, like Spinoza in 
this also, went down to posterity as a worthless, impious 
atheist, one of the reputed authors of the mythical work 
De Tribus Impostoribus, which no one had ever seen, 
but in which the three founders of the great religions of 
the world were attacked as conscious cheats ! So far 
was the world as yet from understanding the martyr 
for truth and for " the religion of thought." 

It was from Germany that the reaction came. 
The story of the restoration of Bruno s name (his 
Ehrennttung] has been told by Bartholmess, and needs 
but a very brief sketch here. Heumann 2 repudiated 

history of this title and its various interpretations may be added a modern instance 
from the Dictionary of National Biography, sub f^autrollier : " Bruno s Last Tromp " ! 

1 Vide Toland" s Miscellaneous Wtrh, London (1747), vol i. 

2 Acta Phihiopfcrum (1715 ft .), parts iii. ix. xi. xv., cf. Zimmermann in Mm. 
Hel vct. T. v. 


Lacroze s description of him as an atheist and fore 
runner of Spinoza s pantheism, describing him as a 
martyr for the Lutheran faith and as an eclectic in 
philosophy. Brucker ] without the historical sense, 
but a painstaking and learned, if diffuse, analyst, 
judging all philosophies by the standard of orthodox 
Protestantism and the Leibnizian philosophy yet 
sympathised with Bruno, described him as an " eclectic, 
combining ideas of the Eleatics with those of Democritus 
and Epicurus, Copernicus and Pythagoras, not an 
impostor, but an intellectual enthusiast cum ratione 
insanivit" Throughout the remaining part of the 
century a number of monographs appeared, by Jordan, 
Christiani, Kindervater ; with, on the contra side, Less- 
man and Lauckhard. Adelung thought Bruno worthy 
of a place in his History of Human Folly (1785). In 
the same year (1785) appeared F. H. Jacobi s Letters 
on Spinoza s Philosophy^ which contained a " restora 
tion " at one stroke of both Bruno and Spinoza to their 
place among the great names of the history of thought. 2 
This fine thinker if not great thinker penetrated by 
the beauty and calm of Spinoza s pantheism, saw in 
Bruno a true forerunner. Bruno had " taken up the 
substance of the ancient philosophy, transformed it into 
flesh and blood, was wholly permeated by its spirit, 
without ceasing to be himself." Naturally it was in 
the Causa that Jacobi found the greatest affinity with 
Spinoza, as in it the starting-point of Bruno is from the 
One, the Highest, which is at the same time the All 
the universe, the unity of the One and Many, of Spirit 
and Nature. Jakobi s friend, Hamann, the " Wizard 
of the North," the mystical critic of Kantianism, went 

1 Kur-xe Vragen aus der Phil. Hist. (i~^6), and Hist. Crit. (1742-1744). 
2 Cf. his Werke, t. iv. pt. 2. 


a step further than Jakobi himself; Bruno s principle 
of the coincidence of opposites, he said, was of more 
value to him than all the Kantian criticism. In the 
pantheistic or monistic side of Bruno s philosophy he 
found sympathy with his own revolt against the excessive 
intellectualism and rationalism which seemed to him to 
be the chief danger of the Kantian philosophy. 1 Goethe 
also was carried away by the flowing tide of enthusiasm, 
and, indeed, his own philosophical conception had much 
affinity with that of the Nolan, although in their inner 
natures the two men differed toto coelo.- Buhle first 
in his Comment on the Rise and Progress of Pantheism 
(1790), afterwards in his learned and careful History of 
Philosophy ;! placed Bruno amongst the highest of pan 
theistic writers. Even Tennemann 3 grows eloquent 
over the brilliant effort of Bruno, by which he almost 
achieved a philosophy of the Absolute two centuries 
before Schelling and Hegel. 4 Fulleborn is more cautious 
and critical, but in his Contributions to the History of 
Philosophy he gives analyses and extracts from several 
of Bruno s works. 5 Schelling himself, as is clear from 
the dialogue which he wrote bearing Bruno s name, 
regarded the Italian as nearest to himself among his 
forerunners in the philosophy of the absolute. There 
is obviously a close analogy between the two ; and 
Schelling may be said to take, with regard to the course 
of philosophy after him, the same place which Bruno 
took as regards the lines of development in the philosophy 
of the seventeenth century. Both had a wider view, and 

1 Cf. Carrierc, op. cit. p. 475. 

- Brunnhofer has suggested an active influence of Bruno upon Goethe -v. Gb the 
Jahrbuch (1886), Gothe s Bildkraft (1890), Leipzig ; also Carriere, p. 487. 
Geschichte des neuerer. PAilosopAie, 6 vols., Gottingen (1800-1805), vol. 2. 

4 History of Philosophy, 11 vols. (1798-1819), vol. 9, pp. 372-429. 

5 Bcitriige, vii. 4 and xi. I. 

ii HEGEL 353 

perhaps a deeper insight, than their successors, while 
lacking the power of strenuous thought necessary 
to carry out their views into the completeness of a 
philosophical system. It is doubtful, however, whether 
Schelling knew much more of Bruno than Jakobi s 
essay and his abstract of the Causa had to tell. 

Hegel took a much less enthusiastic view of Bruno s 
philosophy than did his contemporary and sometime 
partner to place Bruno on a level with Spinoza was 
to give him a higher reputation than he deserved : 
his doctrine was a mere re-echo of the Alexandrine. 
Yet Hegel, too, saw something to admire in this 
" Bacchantic " spirit, revelling in the discovery of its 
oneness with the Idea, and with all other beings, with 
the all of nature which is an externalisation of spirit. 
It was under the influence of Hegel or of the Hegelian 
philosophy that the first really complete and satisfactory 
studies of Bruno appeared : Christian Bartholmess 
Jordano Bruno, 1 and Moritz Carriere s Philosophische 
Weltanschauung der Reformationszeit. 1 The quick and 
generous enthusiasm of the first, the wide philosophic 
comprehension of the second have probably done more 
to attract public attention to the forgotten Nolan, and 
to guarantee him a permanent place in the history of 
philosophy, than any other writings about him. Since 
their time the literature upon Bruno has steadily in 
creased, and with it has grown the comprehension of 
and sympathy with the man as well as with the idea he 
so fearlessly proclaimed, and so strenuously defended. 
It is no part of the purpose of this work to parallel 

1 2 vols., Paris, 1846, 1847. 

2 Stuttgart, 1847, PP- 365-494. 2nd edition, enlarged, Leipzig, 1887, 2 vo i?.. 
Both of the above works were preceded by a translation into Italian (by Florence 
Waddington) of Schelling s Dialogue, with an introduction by Terenzio Mamiani (on, 
Bruno), Firenze. 1845 ; 2nd edition, 1859. 

2 A 


Bruno with any of the more modern philosophers. It 
is foolhardy to say, for example, as Brunnhofer does, 
that Schopenhauer alone reaches the same height of 
literary style in modern philosophy, " although the 
Nolan leaves the Frankfort philosopher far behind him 
through the strength of his philosophical conception of 
the universe, which holds its own against pessimism and 
optimism alike." l It is foolhardy, and it is misleading, 
to place him in comparison with philosophers who have 
nearly three centuries of thought, of social, industrial, 
and literary growth, between him and them. Like all 
the philosophers whom a touch of poetical imagination 
has redeemed, Bruno stands more or less alone, and he 
overtops all the others of his century. None of the 
ordinary rubrics of historical terminology in philosophy 
apply to him, not even that of "Eclectic." He is 
far more than that. His philosophy, as perhaps these 
pages have shown, bears the stamp of individuality, the 
individuality of a strong mind, fed with nearly all the 
knowledge, and all the out-reaching guesses at truth of 
its own time, and of the times that had gone before, 
striving to turn this difficult mass into nourishment for 
itself, and to transmit the achievement to others. He 
was an eclectic, just as every great thinker is an eclectic, 
but it is the bricks merely, not the style of architecture, 
that he has borrowed from others. He never founded 
a school, not merely because the circumstances of his 
life, and the fate of his writings, precluded him from 
being widely known or studied in any country, but also 
because his philosophy was too much a thing of himself 
to be readily attractive to many of his hearers or readers. 
Yet it has been a force making for the progress of 

1 Of. dr., forreJe, xi. A bibliography of the more recent works on Bruno 
js given at the beginning of this volume. 


thought and of liberty, and it is still an active force. 
Human nature has not yet lost the tendency to rest 
calmly in its " habit of believing," to shut itself up in 
its finite world, refusing either to look abroad, or to 
look at itself from an external point of view ; it is still 
apt to think " geocentrically," to take its molehills for 
mountains, while " underlooking," if the term may be 
allowed, the real mountains that are before it, to hold 
doggedly to one contrary, reject utterly the other, 
whereas the truth always lies in their unity. To these 
recurring foibles of humanity, and more especially, 
perhaps, of philosophic humanity, the fresh and 
vigorous writings of the Dominican monk and martyr 
of the sixteenth century will ever form a healthy 


I. To p. 5 and p. 27, Brunos upbringing.- In the Infinite, Lag. 
362. 34, Burchio, the Aristotelian pedant of the dialogue, addresses 
Fracastorio in the following polite terms : "You would be more 
learned than Aristotle you, a beast, a poor devil, a beggar, a 
wretch, fed on bread of millet, perishing of hunger, begotten of a 
tailor, born of a washer-woman, nephew to Cecco the cobbler, 
"figol di Momo, postiglion de le puttane, brother to La /arus that makes 
shoes for asses ! " It is almost incredible that any one should have 
taken these words as biographical or rather auto-biographical. They 
arc in the mouth of a pedant and enemy : they are addressed not 
to the Bruno-character of the dialogue (" Philothco "), but to 
Fracastorio, who temporarily takes his place as a well-trained 
disciple. Yet Lagardc, that amazing editor, gravely wonders 
whether the Dominicans did not know that their novice had been 
" postiglion de le puttane," or whether they were glad to forget it 
when they saw the pure and attractive young face ! (t>. Lagarde s 
ec ition of the Italian works, pp. 789, 798). 

2. To p. 10. Tl:e Arian /.-eresy. Before the Venetian tribunal 
Bruno explained his position with regard to the Arian heresy 
thus : "I showed the opinion of Arius to be less dangerous than 
it was generally held to be, because generally it is understood that 
Arius meant to say that the Word was the first creation of the 
Father, and I declared that Arius said the Word was neither Creator 
nor Creation, but intermediary between the Creator and the 
Creation, as the word is intermediary between the speaker and what 
is spoken, and therefore it is said to be first-born before all creatures ; 
through it, not out of it, have all things been created. . . ." 
(Doc. xi. Bert. i. p. 403). 

3. To p. 33. Sidney and Greville. Greville had been a school- 



mate of Sidney at Shrewsbury, but proceeded to Jesus College, 
Cambridge, while Sidney went to Christ Church at Oxford ; after 
wards they were constant friends at Court. When Sidney went to 
Heidelberg in 1577, the Oueen would not allow the handsome 
Greville to accompany him, nor would she let either go with Drake 
to the West Indies in 1585, and Greville was kept at home from 
Leicester s Expedition to the Low Countries, in which poor Sidney 
met with a heroic death (Oct. 17, 1586). In a letter of 1586, 
Greville describes Sidney as "that prince of gentlemen ": writin^ 
to Douglas after Sidney s death, he says that the name of Sidney s 
friendship has carried him above his own worth. The epitaph 
Greville wrote for himself is familiar, but will bear repetition : 
"Fulkc Greville, Servant to Oucen Elizabeth, Councillor to King 
James, and friend to Sir Philip Sidney. Trophacum Peccati" 

4. To p. 35. l r autr>jllier and Bruno. Vautrollicr traded in 
Scotland as early as 1580 as a bookseller: he had already enjoyed 
the patronage of King James, and was even encouraged to return 
with a printing press, which he did in 1584. Thereafter he pub 
lished in both London and Edinburgh till 1587. On the other 
hand some of Bruno s works were printed in 1585, so that the 
theory of Vautrollier s Right to Scotland owing to his being the 
printer of Bruno s works, falls through. The business in London 
was carried on during his absence by his wife, and the " troubles " 
out of which Mr. Randolph helped him were quite unconnected with 
Bruno, and may have arisen from his printing of John Knox s 
History of the Reformation in Scotland, which Archbishop Whitgift 
suppressed. The letter to Mr. Randolph is in L Espine s Treatise 
f Apostasy, 1587 (Vautrollicr : London). 

5. To p. 51. Mordentius. Fabrixio Mordente of Salerno was a 
mathematician of the sixteenth century, of whom only two works 
arc known to have existed, one published in 1597, the other 
written in conjunction with his brother Caspar in 1591. He was 
the inventor of an eight-point compasses of which Bruno writes in 
the second of the Mordentius dialogues, and on which he bestows 
apparently extravagant praise. The peculiarity of the invention, 
as far as one can discover, consisted in the introduction of four 
" runners," two on either limb of the compasses, and secured by 
screws ; but there seems to have been no gradation of the compasses, 
and it is difficult to perceive any great value in the novelty, without 


that essential addition. The first of the two dialogues suggests a 
possible origin for some of Bruno s ideas on atomic geometry, as we 
find, attributed to Mordentius, two ideas that were applied to some 
purpose in Bruno s own mathematical works. They are (i) that of 
the measurement of inappreciable subdivisions of continuous 
quantities by integration, and (2) that of the impossibility of infinite 
division, the continuous being composed of discrete minima, beyond 
which no division can go, and the minima (like the maxima] being 
relative, differing in different subjects, so that, for example, what in 
astronomy is a minimal quantity may in geodesy be greater than the 
diameter of the earth. 


ABIOF.UTE, first principle or, 166 

Agrippa of Nettesheim, Cornelius, 148, 
149; De occultti philosophia, 131, 149; 
>;. Sanitate Sciertiarum, 149, 257 

Alasco, Prince, of Poland, 23 

Algerio, Pomponio, 4 

Aisled, John Henry, Artifc .u :: ferora<:di, 
1 1 ; 

Anaxagoras, 126 

Animism, 305 ; universal, 147 

Antidicsonus, 36, 324 

Aquinas, St. Thomas, 9, 80, 137 

Areopagus, literary society, 27 

Aretino, Pietro, Cortegiana of, 19 

Arian heresy, tlie, 357 

Aristotle, DC Anlma, 16, 158, 159; crilicism 
of, 50, 123 ; Organon, 53, 55 ; Topics, 55 ; 
Metaphysics, 113, 1255 Rhetoric, 114, 1385 
Physics, 115, Il6, 122, 125, 236; De 
generatione et corruption?, 116; Meteor o- 
logica, 1 16; Bruno s acquainlance with, 
121-23; rejection of mathemalical 
method, 123 ; treatment of predecessors, 
124 ; Logic, 138 ; theory of limitation 
of space, 183 ,- on finitude of world, 185, 
186 ; on pluralily of worlds, 197 

Asinity, 257 

Aspiration, 291 

Alom, ihe, 236 ; knowledge implies the, 
22" ; spherical, 240 ; and materialism, 

Atomism, belief of Bruno and Cusanus in, 
147 ; a metaphysical doctrine, 227, 246 ; 
mathematical, 24 5 ; physical, 247; critical, 
247 ; and mathematics, 331 

Avarice, 272 

Avenarius, 337 

Averroes, 136, 305 

Avicebron or Avencebrol, Fens I itac, 135 

Bacon, Francis, 33, 123, 139, 325-29; 
Novurr. Organum, 123, 124, 327-32; 
Historia Natwalh et Experimental !!, 325 ; 
Hiitoria Vent&rurn, 326 ; De Augment }!, 

Scientiarum, 327, 328, 333 ; method, 329 ; 

theory of form, 3^0 
Balbani, Nicolo, of Lucca, i 3 
Bartholmess, Christian, 2, 16, 20, 97, 311, 

348, 350 

Basuus Catalogue ot Frankfort Books, 65 
Biyle, Pierre, 348 
Beauty, 281, 283; reason apprehends true, 


Bellarmino, censor of Bruno s works, 89 
Berti, Domenico, 5, 8, 10, n, 94, 95, 333, 


Besler, Bruno s pupil and copyist, 114-17 
Bible s teaching, the, 299 
Bochetel, Maria de, 47 
Body, dislraction of the, 288 / 
Bodies, movements o ; , 216 ; prime, 224 
Brunnhofer, 3, 18, 41, 51, 60, 64, 89, 114, 

3 01 33.7 345- 354 
Bruno, Giovanni, father of Bruno, 3 
Bruno, Giordano (Filippo), birth and family, 
3 ; childhood, 5, 357 ; at Naples, 8, 121 ; 
enters Dominican Order, 9 ; became priest, 
9 ; charges of heresy, 9, 10; at Rome, 10 ; 
at Venice, 11, 66 ; at Padua, 12, 69 ; at 
Geneva, 12; before Consistory, 15; at 
Toulouse, 1 6, 17; Doctor in Theology 
and professor, Tf> ; at Paris, 17, 1 8 ; 
Reader at the university, 20 ; at London, 
21 ; at Oxford, 21 ; impressions of 
Oxford. 25 ; relation to Mauvissiere, 27 ; 
on Mauvissiere, 29 ; admiration for 
women of England, 41 ; hostility in 
England, 45 ; consults Bishop of Bergamo, 
48 ; associate of College of France, 49 ; 
at Marburg, 51 ; at Wittenberg, 52; at 
Helmstadt, 60 ; denounced by Mocenigo 
at Venice, 72, 73 ; examination before 
Tribunal, 74, 294, 357 ; defence, 75 ; 
creed, 76, 77, 109 ; abjuration of errors, 
8 1 ; remitted to Rome, 84 ; orthodoxy, 
87 ; death, 92-96 ; grounds for death, 97 ; 
mission, 103 ; dislike of pedantry, 105 ; 
originality, 107 ; optimism in philosophy, 




in. 175. 313; works published during 
imprisonment and posthumously, 113-17"; 
interest in Greek philosophy, 125 ; and 
Cusanus, 147 ; religion, 297 ; rationalism, 
301 ; restoration of name, 351 

Pul>!icjt::ns Italian Dialogues, 5, 29, 
34i 45- 12 ~ ; . V ,T//. .VJ Sigillorum, 5, 12, 17, 
.37, in, 112, 137, 14-3, 20~; Le Ope re 
Itaiia- -.c, ;, 89 ; U}cra La .ir.a, 6, -, 12, 17, 
20, 22, 40, So, 96, icf), 113, 114, 122, 

126, 12-, 134-3-, 140, 141, 1-1, 1-8, 
180, 18 i, 183, 184, i 88, 196-200, 202, 

20-. 209-11, 213, 2l6, 230, 231, 23,-, 
23 >, 242, 243, 2f>0, 26l, 266, 292, 295, 
29-. 298, 302-4, 33-, 310, 311, 313-16, 
318-20, ,34, 33:;; /J..- In-. r.f-.x, 8,48, 31, 

62, 65, I0 8, 122, 133, 132, 180, 183, 

185, lS r -i, 191, 192, 196, 203-08, 212, 
21}, 21 ;, 2l8, 221, 223, 226, ^O-, 311, 

315 ; % of the Times, i i ; Ark of Noah, 
11; Cat .i. j, 11, 40, 41, 102, 10-. 149, 

ZI9, 2,2, 26,, 2-0, 308; Cf .VJ. 12, 23, 

2,, 2-, ;;, 3;, 3-, 41, 103, 104, 106, 
108, 123, 123, 126, 1 32. 161, 163, i-o, 

2I(>, 21!), 26S, 299. 300, ;oi, 310, 32-; 
Cla-vis. Mag>:a, 17, 3-; "The Thirty 
Divine Attributes," 17; DC Umbris, i S , 
19, 103, io-, 115, 310, 324; sirs 
Memorial , 18; Cant us C;r l a iis, 18, 3-; 
DC Compendia*!! Architecture!, 19, 140, 141 ; 
II Candciaie, 19, 106 ; (9/w.-/, Consolatoria, 
21, 60. 260, 298 ; Expiicati j TriginUi 
Xiz dl .ru n, 22, 26, 34, ?7 ; "Immortality 
of the Soul "and " The Five-fold Sphere, 
25; 2;, 29, 30, 33, 33, 38, 1 06, 
124-26, 132, 133, 13,-, !3 7> ,38, ,- 0) 
15^, I^v 200, 302, 309, 340; Infir.:! ,, 
28, ioS, 123, 131, 142, i So, 185, 192, 
217, 221, 224, 310, 3^7 ; fyacc-c,, 32, 39, 
40, 46, 57, i ;o, 131, 144, 149, !6o, 224, 

232-54, 265, 296, 302, 306, 30-, 341 ; 

H,r lei Furori, 32, 41, 42, 100, 126, 129, 
34 37 2 ^2, 253, 302, 310, 313; 
Modern and Complete Art of Remembering, 
37 ; Centum et Viginti, Articuli be 
Natura et Mundo, 49 ; DC Lampade CW- 
b:na:or] a , 53, 139, 261; De Lampade 
ComLir.atGrij Lulliana, 54 ; DC Specierum 
Scrutiny 54, 59, 114; De Progremi 
Lampada Senator la Logicorum, 55 ; De 
Minimo,6z-6$, 106, 116, 160, 163, 178, 
223, 226, 228, 234-36, 238-41, 243, 312, 
313, 320; De Monade, 62, 65, 80, 149, 
150; Articuli ad-v. Mathematicos, i io, 244, 
2 95 3 *8> 335> Sumtra ter minor urn meta- 
physicorum, 113, 304, 305, 308, 321, 341 ; 
Artific ium pci orar.di, 114; Lampas Triginta 
Statnarum, 114, 295, 313, 314, 320, 321 ; 
De Magia, et 7/:,rj de Magia, 116 ; Z>? 

M,7^,w Mathematics, I 16, 137 ; Df TJn-.vw 
Principiis et Elcmcntis et Cxusis, 1 1 6 ; De 
Medicina Lulliana, 117, 139; DC Vincu .is 
in genere, 117, 134, 266; Acrctismus, 1 80, 
217, 223, 22^, 226 

Budgell, Eustace, in Spectator, 348 

Buhle, History of Philosophy, 352 

Burton, Robert, Ai:a:omy of Melancholy, 34- 

Ciibala, Hebrew, 130, i 3 i 

Camden s Eli-^btth, 24 

Cardanus, 150 

Carriere, Moritz, 3 39 

C;HHC of nature, efficient, 157, 184; formal, 

158; final, 158 

Change, ceaseless, 205, 210, 221 
Christianity, attack on, 225 
Cicala, Mount, 5, 7 
Clemens, F. J. 142, 266 
Coincidence of all things in One, 172, 176 - 

of contraries, 176, 179, 209 ; verifications 

of, 177-79 

Comets, Bruno s theory of, 212 
Commerce, the evils of, 269 
Company of St. John the Beheaded, 95, 96 
Contarini, Venetian procurator, report of, 84 
Continuum not divisible, 237 
Copernicanism, a heresy, 89; influence of, 

on Bruno, i io 
Copernicus, 150-52; De orb ium ccelatium 

Re-volutionihus, 150 

Culpepper, Warden of New College, 26 
Cusanus. See Nicolaus of Cusa. 

Death and life contrasted, 289 

Democritus, 126 

Descartes, 3 ^4-36 

Desire, human, i 8 i 

Dicson, Alexander, 35, 36; DC Umbra 

Ratio/its, 36, 324 
Disputation of Pentecost, 49 
Divine essence, attributes of, 193 ; union 

with the, 280 ; finite soul and mind, 307 
Divinity of Christ, 79; of matter, 157 
Domenico da Nocera, 71, 75 
Dominicans, the, 8, 357 
Douglas, Archibald, 47 
Dufour, Theophil, 14 

Earth, the, 208 : as centre of gravity, 190 ; 

its movements, 211 ; and suns, 211 
Eglin, Raphael, 64, 113 
Egyptian theosophy, 130; religion, 305 
Elements, the, 185 ; in isolation, 209 
Elizabeth, Queen, 21, 30, 31, 47, 8 1 ; the 

London of, 41, 45 
Empedocles, 126 
England, works published in, 37 
Epitaph, Bruno s, 99 



Erlangen Codex, 1 16 

Ether, the, 206, 245 

Euclid, simplification of, 243 

Evolution, theory of, 270 

Existences, finite, 173 ; differ, all, 235 

Faith and works, 254 

Faye. Anthony de la, 14 

Ficino, Marsilio, 128 

Figure in body and space, 189 

Finite soul and divine mind, 307 

Florentine, in GiornaU de la Domenica, 6 

Fire, Bruno s theory of, 209 

Florio, 21, ;5, 435 "First Fruites," 35; 

translation of Montaigne, 35 
Form, intellect as, 158, 1605 natural, 165 
Franco, Nicolo, 39 
Frankfort, works published at, 51, 62, 66, 

1:4 ; petition to council of, 63 
Furor (inspiration), kinds of, 279 

Gassendi, Pierre, 336, 337 

Gemistus, Georgius (Gemistus Plethon), 
127, 128 

Gentile, Alberico, 53 

God in us, 291, 316 ; love of, 291-93, 342 ; 
man and, 298 ; in nature, 315 j m him 
self, 317 

Goethe, 352 

Golden Age, the, 266 

Greville, Sir Fulke, 27, 33, 43, 357 

Griin, professor of philosophy, 54 

Gwinne, Matthew, 35, 43 

Hege , 353 ; De Orbitis Plar.etarum, 108 

Helmstadt, Bruno at, 60, 61 

Hennequin, John, 49 

Henry III., 17, 18 

Heraclitus fire, 125 

Heretical propositions, the eight, 90 

Heunninn, Ada Philosophorum, 350 

lamblichus, 129 

Ideas, abstract, 196 

Identity in God, 167 ; in kind of all beings, 


Imagination of Bruno, 107 
Immaculate conception, rejection of, 109 
Immortality, 159; meaning of, 3095 

individual, 31 1 

Indifference of all things in the Infinite, 173 
Infinite and the finite, the, 187, 307 ; 

action between the, 187 ; relation of, 188 
Intellect, 282, 341 
Intelligence and Love, 290 ; instinct and, 

Isolation, no elements in, 209 

Jacobi, F. H., Letters on Spinoza s Philosophy., 


Jews, antipathy towards the, 265 
Judgment, 262 ; based upon sensations, 234 
Juvenal, 104 

Kepler, 333 

Knowledge of God, 194 ; principles of, 229 j 

relativity of, 233 ; Bruno s Summum Bo;ium, 


Lacroze, 345, 346, 350 

Lagarde, 5, n, 12 ,23, 25, 27, 28-31, 36, 40, 
42, 46, 57, 102-8, 124, et seq., 142, 144, 
150, 154-65, 167-69, 172, et se%., 185, 
193, 216, et seq,, 252, 253, 255-57, 259, 
261 et seq., 276-93, 296 ft seq., 357 
Law, function of, 262 

Leibniz, Mor.adology, 224 ; and Bruno, 343 ; 
Bruno s influence on, 345 ; on Bruno, 347 
Lessing s idea of myths anticipated, 108 
Life, one principle of, 199 ; the practical, 
261 ; the strenuous, 279 ; and death con 
trasted, 289 

London of Elizabeth, the, 42, 45 
Love, degrees of, 281 ; intelligence and, 290 
Lucian s Parliament of the G^ls, 39 
Lucretius, 127 ; De rerum natura, 127 
Lully, Raymond, 138-41 ; Art if Reasoning, 

"5> J 39i 333 
Luther, 57 

Magnus, Albertus, 137 

Man and the animals, 270 ; and God, 298 

Matter, divinity of, 157; spirit and, 161 ; 

and form, 163, 1 68 ; deduction of, 1635 

the true substance, 165 5 as potentiality, 

1 66 ; substrate of the spiritual world, 

168 ; the ultimate unity, 171 
Matthew, Tobias, 26 
Mauvissiere, 26, 27, 29, 47 ; Teulct Papers, 

23 ; Salisbury Papers, 47 
Melanchthon, 52 
Mendoca, Bernardino di, 31, 32 
"Metaphysical Remains," 113 
Minima, the three, 227 ; in the classification 

of the sciences, 229 
Minimum, relativity of, 227 ; as substance, 

230; indestructible, 231; mathematics 

of the, 241 

Miracles and deceit, 257 
Mirror of God, 182 

Mocenigo, Giovanni, 66, 67, 70, 72, 73, 75 
Moisture, a material element, 207 
Mordente, Fabrizio, 51, 358 
Morehead, W., 39, 349 
Morosini, Andrea, 71 
Mystical and naturalistic attitude compared 

no, iii 


Naples, Bruno at, 8, 121 ; cloister at, 9 
Nature as one ami many, 169 j permanence 
t beauty, harmony, 175 ; uniformity of, 

203 ; and spirit, 251 
Necessity and liberty, 19^ 
Neoplatonist school, ,27, I2 8; mysticism 

or the, 1 10, i 54 
Nicodemo, Lionardo, ;4,S 
Nicolaus of Cusa, 141, 1-6; sketch of his 

philosophy, 142-4* j DC Docta Ignrantia, 

4i.i45- 2 i~j "rid Bruno compared 14.4 


: Safi, 

Nigidius, Petrus, 5 i 
Nola, 3, 4, 7 

Object of DC Minimo, 226 
Ovid, .Mc.arno -p/ . ^L^. ()<) 

Oxford and Aristotle, 21, 22 ; Bruno s im- 
pressions of, 25 

Padua, 12, 69 

Paracelsus, ,49, i- O; a d miraca um medico 


Paris, i 8 

Perfection, abstract conception of 1 9 S 
plurality and, 199 - n:ltllre ofj , o , | 
progress and, 28^ 

Peripatetic philosophy, theses against, 40 
criticism of theory, 49 

Philosophy, practical test of a perfect, 112 
Bruno s Matter and spirit, i 59 necessity 
and liberty, 19,-; similarity in composites, 
2.34; time and space, 237 ; part and 
limit, 239; peace and liberty, 261- 
sincerity, 264 ; temperance, 26^5 evolu 
tion, 270 ; avarice, 272 ; fortune, 272 ; 

courage. 2-3 ; simplicity, 273 ; solicitude, 
274; beauty, 281, 283; love, 281, 290 
ius V.. Pope, 39 

ato, w rf .vj, 131; Ret :i h:ic, 131 
Piatonism, Platonists, 128. 1-3 


Plethon. See Gemistus, Georgius 
Plotinus, 132, 13 Knm;i,h 
Pognisi, Gio -dar.o Brur.o, 96 
Prague, 59 

Pre-Aristotelians, the, 12; 
Predicates of God, 114; of substance and 

nature, i i 5 

Primum mobile, the, 185 
Principle : cause, 155 ; first or absolute, 166 
Process, the infinite, 284 
Progress, human, 269 ; and perfection, 28? 
I rudence, the virtue of deliberative faculty 

Ramus, Petrus, Dialectic of, 1 6, 324 
Ratio or discursive thought, 341 
Rationalism in Bruno^ 3015 medieval, 


Reality of things, timeless, 321 
Reuchlin, Johann, De art,; cabMistica, 131 
Riches and poverty, 2-1 
Riehl, Giordano Bruno , 6() 
Roche, La, Memoir, of Literutu.c, 94 
Roman people, Bruno on, 26; 
Rome, Bruno at, 10 : tribunal at, qi 
Rudolph tl., ,-9 

Savolina, Fr.mlissa. mother of Bruno, i 

Schelling, 3^2 

Scholastics, the, i 5- 

Schopenhauer, 354 

Schopp, Caspar, 40, 94; letter on Bruno s 

death, 92, ;^o 
Selt-consciousness, 273 
Sense-knowledge, relativitv of, z~z 
Shakespeare, ^4, 3^ 
Sidney, Sir Philip, ,2, 27, 31, 32, 3,-, 59, 

Soul, the goods of the, z~ i the body, 286 

functions of the, 286 ; hierarchy of, ^13 
Soul-principle in bodies, 216, 224 
Spagnolo, Alfonso, 48 
Spenser, Edmund, Cantos ,. Afntabili y 77 

Kerie %,,;;, 33 

Spinoza on Bible interpretation, 108; and 
Bruno, 1-6, 337-43 ; DC Deo scu Honinc, 
34-0, 342 j Ethics, 341 
Spirit an, I matter, i6r j unity of, and body 


Stars, souls of the, 217 
Stein, Ludwig, 346 
Superstition and natural law, 7 

Tansillo, affection of Bruno for, 5 ; quoted, 


Tasso, Amlnta, 36, 268 
Telesio, De natura rerum, 150 
Temple of Wisdom, the, 57 ; builders of, 128 
Tennemann, Wilhelm G., 352 
Theism in Bruno, 319 
Theophilus of Varrano, 121 
Tiraboschi, Girolamo, historian, 10- 
Tocco, Felice, Conferenxa, 90 5 Le Opera 

Latir.e de G. Bruno, 114, 2255 criticism 

of Lampas Triginta Statuarum, 115; Le 

Of ere Inedite dl G. Brur.o, 115, 1 1 6 Le 

Fonti piu recent;, 138, 149 
Toland, John, 38, 94, 349 
Trinity, rejection of the, 109 ; Cusanus 

proof of the, 145 5 interpretation of the, 

294, 295 



Trismegistus, Mercurius or Hermes, 129 
Truth, philosophical and theological, 76 ; 

the "implicit universe," 274, 2755 t h ( - 

twofold, }o; 

Universe, infinite in extent, 182, 183 ; per 
fection of the, 190 

Vacuum, the, 240 

Vanini, Lucilio, burnt as a heretic at Tou 
louse, 17, 334 

Vautrollier, bookseller, 34, 358 

Venice, works published at, n ; tribunal at, 
73, 294, 357 5 relation between, and the 
Pope, 85 

Verifications of coincidence, 177 

Vico, Marquis of, 12 

Virtues, table of the, 259 

Wagner in Bruno s Of ere Itaiiane, 89 

Waldensian persecution, 8 

Watson, Thomas, C ,mpt ndi:n : A Inner: a? 
Localts, 36, 325 ; translation of Tasso s 
Aminta, 36 

Whole an;l its parts, the, 186 

Williams, L., 41 

Wisdom reviewed, 275 

Wittenberg, Bruno at, 51, 525 works pub 
lished at, 54, 55 ; lectures at, 114; notes 
dictated at, 115 

Wittmann, Arch tv fur Geschichte dcr Philo 
sophic, 135, 136 

Works, Marburg edition, 113 ; State edition. 
113-115; published during imprisonment 
and posthumously, 113-117; Noroff col 
lection, 1 16, 117 

Worlds, innumerable, 191, 194; decay of, 


Zurich, Bruno at, 64 ; work published at, 


Printed bf R. & R. CLAKK, 

u, Edinlurgh 



M.P., O.M. With Portraits and other Illustrations. Three Vols. 8vo. 42*. net. 


Photogravure Portraits. 8vo. [Shortly 


Svo. IDS. net. 

Mr. Gladstone Lord Beaconsfield -J. R. Green E. A. Freeman T. H. Green 
W. Robertson Smith Lord Iddesleigh Robert Lowe- C. S. Parnell Lord Cairns Sir 
George Jessel Cardinal Manning Archbishop Tail Bishop Fraser Dean Stanley- 
Lord Acton Henry Sidgwick Anthony Trollope. 


D.C.L., sometime Bishop of Durham. By his Son, ARTHUR WESTCOTT. With Photo 
gravure Portraits and Illustrations. Two vols. Extra Crown Svo. 175. net. 


Photogravure Portraits, etc. Svo. I2S. 6u. net. 


CHRISTAIIEL COLERIDGE. With nine Photogravure Portraits and other Illustration.-. 
Svo. I2S. 6d. net. 



F.R.S. By Mrs. FAWCKTT, LL.D. With Photogravure Portraits. Extra Crown Svo. 
8s. 6d. net. 

STErnKN 1 , K.C.B. With three Portraits. Svo. 


LEONARD HUXLI.V. With Portraits. In Three Vols. Globe Svo. 


Illustrated Edition. Kxtra Crown Svo. I4S. net. 

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON : a MEMOIR. By his SON. With Portrait 
and Facsimiles. Extra Crown Svo. IDS. net. 

LIFE OF EDWARD WHITE BENSON, sometime Archbishop of Canter 

bury. By his Son, ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER BENSON. Two vols. Svo. 
*V Abridged Edition. Kxtra Crown Svo. Ss. 6d. net. 


WHITE BENSON, D.D. Svo. 2is. net. 


ALLEN. With Portrait and Illustrations. Three Yols. Svo. 30*. net. 


HOOK, D.D. Demy Svo. Vol. I., i 5 s. : Vol. II., iss. ; Vol. V., i 5 s. ; Vols. VI. and VII., 

3 os. ; Vol. VIII., is-s. ; Vol. X., i 5 s. ; Vol. XL, i 5 s. ; Vol. XI L, i 5 s. 


Demy Svo. i2S. fid. net. 


CHURCH. Globe Svo. 4S. net. 

With Portraits and Illustrations. Demy Kvo. Part I. FAMILY AND PERSONAL, 

1766-1865. Two Vols. 25s. net. Part II. PERSONAL AND POLITICAL. Two vols. 

LL.D. By his Son, A. F. HORT. With Portraits. Extra Crown Svo. iys. net. 
THE LIFE OF CARDINAL MANNING, Archbishop of Westminster. 

By E. S. PURCKLL. With Portraits. Two vols. Svo. 3os. net. 


E. S. PUKCELL. Edited and finished by EDWIN DE LISLE. With Two Photogravure 
Portraits. In Two vols. Svo. 

FRANCIS OK ASSIST. By Mrs. Oi.iriiANT. Crown Svo. 6s. 


1I , VEAKS IN IXI IA. From Subaltern to Commander-in- 
Chief. By EARI. ROHERTS K.G. With Illustrations and Plans. Library Fditior 
ovo. 3 6s. Popular Edition. One vol. Extra Crown Svo. IDS net 

t ;, E ^I) LETTERS OF E. A. FREEMAN. By the Very Rev. \\ 
K. w. STEPHENS. Two vols. 3\o. 17- net 

SON andWii.i.iAM DENHAM, 13.D. With Portraits. Third Edition. Two vols. Crow: 

Urown bvo. 6s. I opular Edition, abridged. Crown Svo 2s 6d 

BISHOP LIGIITFOOT. With a Prefatory Note by the late BISHOP OF 
DUKHAM. With Portrait. Crown Svo. 3 s. 6d. 

U TM 1 ,?^ ^LKON BONAPARTE. By Professor W. M. SLOANK, 

Ph.D., I..H.D. Illustrated. In 4 vols. 4 t o . 


Hour vols. Crown Svo. 5s. J 


hour vols. Crown Svo. ;6s. 

NAPOLEON : a Sketch of his Life, Character, Struggles, and Achievements. 

By THOMAS E. WATSON. Illustrated. Extra Crown Svo. Gilt top. 
THE \ ORE OF EMPIRE. Sketches of Queen Victoria s Prime Ministers 

by LMND ESHKK. With seven Photogravure Portraits. Crown Svo cs 
SAM I LL TAYLOR COLERIDGE: a Narrative of the Events of his I ife 

l>y J. I). CAMIT.ELL. Witii Portrait. Demy Svo EOS nd 


With Portraits. I wo vols. Crown Svo. 

Globe Svo. 4^. net. 


Second Edition. Crown Svo. 5*. 


AODINGTON SYMOM.S. Fifth Edition. With Portrait. Two vols. Extra Crown Svo 

(.lit tops. I. . ;, I. 

6,"net G " N VMUN " S " Fifth Kdition - w "h Portrait. Extra Crown Svo. Gilt top 


1 K ( K k- j N !"n Wlth 1>ortraits - Two vols. Extra Crown Svo. i 7 s. net. Also in one 


Goldsmith, Sheridan, Sydney Smith, Theodore Hook, etc. Uy Juiiv TIMI.S FS \ 
luoVols. Crown ovo. 7 s. 

AND EDMUND BURKE. l! y JOHN TIMBS, F.S.A. Crown 8vo. Wkh l" r t^! 

HI cJbb?t IC p^eT C HAKACTERS: Mackintosh, Talleyrand, Canning, 

BOROUGH. Vols. I. and II. To the Accession of Queen Armt By Ld Marshal 

De S rn U 8vo ^ LKy - U lth i>ortra Ls aild ti Illustrations and Plans. Fourth Edition. 


o v Ois. urown ^\ o. 1 2s. L,hc;ip Edition, 





B iMdntyre, James Lewis 

783 Giordano Bruno